The heat is up for UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to return the Parthenon Marbles to Greece.
In an article published by UK newspaper, Mail on Sunday, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis urged Mr Johnson to “seize the moment” and return the stolen sculptures back to Athens.
Mr Johnson appealed to Mr Johnson’s education in the classics, stating that he was uniquely placed among British Prime Ministers to understand the importance of the historic artefacts for Greece and have a better grasp as to why “one of the few dividing lines between Greece and the UK”, needs to be resolved.
He said that part of the Parthenon frieze which was “illegally removed by Lord Elgin” is now “1,500 miles from its true home” after it was taken from “the city and the world monument to which it rightfully belongs”. As a result, he pointed out, that “neither the frieze nor the Parthenon can be viewed as complete without the missing sculptures”.
He said the Acropolis Museum was “the right place, the best place, and the only place” to fully appreciate the sculptures, adding there could be no better manifestation of Johnson’s vision for a “new, self-confident, open and truly global Britain” than by making the move to repatriate the sculptures, and he added that Greece was prepared to allow “some of the world’s most iconic artefacts” to be displayed at the British Museum in return.
He emphasised also “the unanimous view of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Commission for promoting the Return of Cultural Property to its Countries of Origin,” placing the issue on an intergovernmental footing, and thus an obligation of the UK government.
Mr Mitsotakis said the Marbles were a special case, and their return would not compel the return of other monuments.
“Now, given the Prime Minister has told me he would not stand in the way of Greece establishing a formal dialogue with the British Museum over the future of the marbles, I can only assume things will be different – that he will not obstruct any future agreement and, instead, the Prime Minister would seek to amend the relevant legislation to allow the sculptures’ return,” Mr Mitsotakis said.
“One thing is certain. The ties that bind Greece and the UK go back centuries. Today, that relationship is strong, and it is enduring. But we cannot pretend that it is complete. Which is why I hope that London and Athens can work together to overturn an injustice that weighs heavy in all Greek hearts….I believe that the classical scholar in Boris Johnson knows that he has a unique opportunity to seize the moment and make this generation the one that finally reunites the Parthenon Sculptures.”