British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has made clear his government will not consider changing a law which forbids the British Museum from returning the Parthenon Marbles to Greece permanently.
The British PM said the legislation’s amendment was not on the table; the law stipulates that the museum can only remove objects from its collection under highly specific circumstances.
While it does not rule out the temporary loan of the marbles to a Greek institution, it does prohibit the repatriation of the so called “Elgin Marbles” to the Hellenic Republic in perpetuity.
“We share their treasures with the world, and the world come to the UK to see them. The collection of the British Museum is protected by law, and we have no plans to change it,” he is quotes as saying by the ABC.
The Greek government and people have on numerous occasions since the country’s independence in 1832 called on the UK for the return of the sculptures.
Various works of art taken from archaeological sites across the Acropolis were removed from the country between 1801 and 1812 by British noble and diplomat Thomas Bruce, more commonly known as Lord Elgin.
The ABC reports the British PM is unlikely to break ranks with the position of his two predecessors, who both took a stand against loaning the marbles to Greece.
“The UK has cared for the Elgin Marbles for generations. Our galleries and museums are funded by taxpayers because they are a huge asset to this country,” he told reporters during a flight to the US.
George Osborne, current chair of the British Museum has for some months been in talks with Greek officials regarding an arrangement to display the sculptures in both Athens and London, according to Reuters.
Read more about the possible exchange here.