The British Museum is negotiating with Greece for the return of the Parthenon Marbles

The newspaper reported that the former Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer, who was appointed head of the London Museum in June last year, met the Greek leader on Monday at a hotel in the wealthy Knightsbridge area of ​​the British capital.

Mitsotakis, who was received by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and King Carlos III during his visit to the United Kingdom, had “exploratory talks” with Osborne last November, according to what was revealed by the Greek press.

Greek media reported on Saturday that the British Museum in London and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis have been holding “secret talks” for a year about the possible return of the Parthenon Marbles to Athens. The ancient sculptures, also known as the Elgin Marbles, were removed from the Parthenon in the early 19th century by British diplomat Lord Elgin and have remained in the hands of the British Museum ever since. Greece asks to return them.

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The new meeting in Knightsbridge, whose sole purpose was to discuss the return of the 2,500-year-old carvings, raised expectations of progress towards resolving the bitter dispute between the UK and Greece. Athens has been claiming the pieces for years and bluntly built a new museum for the Acropolis in 2009 to prove it has a proper place to house this archaeological treasure.

Greek daily Ta Nea reports that behind-the-scenes talks between the head of the British Institution George Osborne and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis “have been taking place in London since November 2021”. According to the newspaper, the latest talks took place this week in a hotel in the center of the British capital, in conjunction with a trip that Mitsotakis made to promote Greek business interests.

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The newspaper said that the “delicate” negotiations between Osborne, the former British finance minister, and the Greek prime minister are in an “advanced stage”, but Greek officials have warned that nothing rules out a last-minute impasse, the newspaper reported. “It is possible to find a mutually beneficial solution. The Greek news agency ANA-MPA quoted Mitsotakis as saying, “The Parthenon sculptures can be reunited and at the same time the concerns of the British Museum can be taken into account.”

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The carvings, known as the Elgin Marbles, occupy a prominent place in the British Museum, which houses a large collection of pieces from ancient Greece and other ancient cultures, as well as the largest display of objects from Pharaonic Egypt outside of Cairo.

The British Museum issued a statement on Saturday saying it wanted a “new partnership with Greece for the Parthenon” and was ready to talk to Athens about it, without elaborating. The Foundation stressed that “we work within the framework of the law and will not disintegrate our great group because it tells a unique story of our common humanity.”

Osborne had said in June that he was open to a deal with Athens to share the Parthenon Marbles. “I think an agreement to tell his story in both Athens and London is possible if we deal with this situation without preconditions or too many red lines,” he told LBC radio.

The Parthenon marbles were acquired by Scottish aristocrat Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin, between 1801 and 1805, when he was ambassador to the Ottoman court in Istanbul—occupied by Greece—and later sold to the United Kingdom, deals Greece owned. Described as “looting”.

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