The British Government has confirmed the cancellation of a meeting scheduled for this Tuesday between the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, and his Greek counterpart, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, following comments by the latter about the Parthenon Marbles, kept by the British Museum.
Mitsotakis, visiting this country, declared last Sunday to a BBC public broadcaster program that “these sculptures belong to Greece” and that “they were essentially stolen.” The prime minister stated that this is not “a question of ownership, but an argument for their reunification” in Athens, adding that the division between London and Athens was like “cutting the Mona Lisa in half.”
According to local media, these statements did not sit well with Sunak, who canceled the meeting scheduled for 11 local time, offering the Greek president a meeting with the deputy prime minister, Oliver Dowden. Mitsotakis has rejected the conservative leader’s offer.
“I want to express my displeasure at the fact that the British Prime Minister canceled our scheduled meeting a few hours before it was due to take place,” Mitsotakis said.
“Those who firmly believe in the rightness and justice of their positions never hesitate to engage in constructive arguments and debates,” Mitsotakis reflected.
The head of Transport of the United Kingdom, Mark Harper, told the BBC this Tuesday that “the Government has already made its position very clear on the Parthenon marbles, which is that they should remain as part of the collection of the British Museum.”
A Conservative Party source cited by The Guardian has said that “after the comments about the marbles it became impossible to hold the meeting.” “It is reckless for a British politician to suggest this is subject to negotiation.”
Downing Street, headquarters of the United Kingdom Government, indicated on Monday that Sunak considers that the London museum is the “appropriate site” to exhibit the valuable archaeological remains that the Athens Executive intends to recover.
The Greek Prime Minister has said that both countries “share long-standing ties of friendship.” “The magnitude of our bilateral relationship is extensive.”
“Our positions on the matter of the Parthenon marbles are well known. “I had anticipated a conversation with my British counterpart on this matter, as well as addressing significant global challenges such as the situations in Gaza and Ukraine, the climate crisis and migration,” the Greek president told the media.