Parthenon Marbles, Rishi Sunak cancels meeting with Greek Prime Minister

“Disconcerted and bored”, this is the feeling of Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the Greek Prime Minister snubbed by Rishi Sunak this Tuesday. The two heads of government were to meet around midday for a 45-minute interview, according to the BBCbut it was canceled.

The reason could be the controversy surrounding the Elgin marbles that Greece has been demanding for years. “For me, it’s not so much a question of ownership, the Greek Prime Minister explained to the BBC. It’s a question of unity. Where can you benefit most from what is, essentially, a single item? » And Kyriakos Mitsotakis compares this separation to cutting The Mona Lisa in two to share it between the Louvre and the British Museum.

This remark would have been the last straw for Rishi Sunak. While the interview was to focus on important geopolitical issues, such as illegal immigration or the crises in the Middle East or Ukraine, the British Prime Minister preferred not to follow up. By way of explanation, 10 Downing Street simply says that the Deputy Prime Minister, Oliver Dowden, was at the disposal of the Greek Prime Minister.

Rishi Sunak thus positions himself in line with the conservative party which believes that the place of these marbles is in the British Museum. A 1963 law also prohibits the restitution of objects. While a loan agreement could be reached between the British Museum and the Acropolis Museum, Rishi Sunak would be skeptical, the risk being that the sculptures would never return to British soil. “Whoever believes in the correctness and justice of his positions is never afraid of opposing arguments”commented Kyriakos Mitsotakis, on Twitter.

On the other hand, Kyriakos Mitsotakis met Keir Starmer, the leader of the opposition, on Monday. With Labor ahead of the Conservatives by 20 points in the polls, the Labor leader may not oppose a deal between the British Museum and the Acropolis. General elections will take place next year.

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