Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has recently been to the UK, campaigning for the return of the Parthenon Marbles.
His efforts have reinvigorated the interest of the media on the long-standing subject.
As a result of further research a No 10 spokesperson said that “It is the longstanding position of the prime minister and the UK government that the Parthenon sculptures were acquired legally in accordance with the law at the time”.
This comes after the unearthing of an article discovered by Ta Nea’s London-based correspondent, Yannis Andritsopoulos where Boris Johnson passionately advocates the return of the Marbles to Greece back in 1886.
The piece was published in Debate, which used to be the official publication of the Oxford Union Society.
In just under 1000 words Mr Johnson, then 21, offers indubitable proof of how important is to return these historical artefacts “where they belong” condemning how they had been “sawed and hacked” from their home.
“The Elgin marbles should leave this northern whisky-drinking guilt-culture, and be displayed where they belong: in a country of bright sunshine and the landscape of Achilles, ‘the shadowy mountains and the echoing sea,” he wrote in the article, which was republished by Ta Nea.
“They will be housed in a new museum a few hundred yards from the Acropolis. They will be meticulously cared for. They will not, as they were in the British Museum in 1938, be severely damaged by manic washerwomen scrubbing them with copper brushes,” Mr Johnson said in his article which was penned ahead of inviting Melina Mercuri to speak at a debate on 12 June 1986.
“Powerful forces will cause her [Mercouri] to fly to Britain. They are on the one hand the passionate national feeling of the Greek people, and on the other the sophistry and intransigence of the British government. And caught between these forces is, not a sack of old balls, but the supreme artistic treasure of the ancient world. The debate on 12 June will mark the climax of a renewed campaign by the Greek government to restore to Greece the sculptural embodiment of the spirit of the nation,” Johnson wrote stressing that Elgin had exploited the “near anarchy” of the times to remove the pieces when Greece was grappling to recover from the Ottoman occupation.
“It was in the Acropolis that he realised he had found a few things that might amuse her (Elgin’s young wife). Manipulating Turkish dependence on Britain for military support, he secured from the Sultan a firman to remove ‘qualche pezzi di pietra’ – a few pieces of stone – that happened to be lying about on the Acropolis,” Johnson advocated.