Greece is preparing a formal request for the loan of the Parthenon Marbles from the British Museum for the bicentenary celebrations of Greece’s Independence from Turkish rule.

Greek Culture Minister Lina Mendoni confirmed on Tuesday that the government is acting on a proposal first put forward by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in an interview with the Observer.

Critics of such a request state that it would be akin to acknowledging the British Museum’s claims  of ownership. Main opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras took to social media to criticise the Prime Minister’s “naive initiative” as it “allows the British Museum to appear as the rightful owner” of the sculptures.

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“As this is a matter of theft, it automatically excludes ownership rights,” Ms Mendoni said, adding that the request would be framed in a way that “safeguards Greek claims.”

Ms Mendoni said that Greece would lend some of its antiquities to the British Museum as part of a cultural swap.

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A British Museum official told The Telegraph that a request by Greece to exhibit the marbles would only be considered if the country relinquishes its ownership rights and acknowledges the British Museum’s ownership.

“No museum or gallery in the world would loan objects unless the other institution that was borrowing them accepted ownership,” the spokesperson said.