LONDON – Shying away from taking a stand in London, where the British Museum houses the stolen Parthenon Marbles, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he believes they could be reunited, and maybe returned at some point.
“It is possible that a mutually beneficial solution can be found, the Parthenon Sculptures can be reunited and at the same time the concerns of the British Museum can be taken into account. I understand that there is momentum, I am consciously talking about reunification of the Sculptures and not about a return,” he said, reported Greece’s state-run Athens-Macedonia News Agency ANA-MPA.
It wasn’t clarified what he meant about the difference between a reunification and a return as the British Museum has offered only to loan them but only if Greek gives up claims of ownership and puts up other Greek treasures as collateral.
In a discussion with the head of the Hellenic Observatory at the London School of Economics, Kevin Featherstone, the Premier said the return was possible and that there was allegedly progress about it, but didn’t want to take a public position.
That was markedly different from his address to the United Nations General Assembly in September when he said Greece will eventually get them back even though his government wasn’t willing to go to European courts to press for it.
“I’m pleased to say that our long and continuing effort to reunite the Parthenon sculptures back in Greece, in this effort we have received support from the vast majority of member states, as well as from UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Committee,” he said.
“No matter how long it will take, the Parthenon sculptures will eventually be coming home,” said Mitsotakis, reported Reuters, and it wasn’t clear if he has taken a different more diplomatic course now.
The museum has kept the stolen pieces for 200 years after acquiring them from a Scottish diplomat, Lord Elgin, who said he had the permission of the then-ruling Ottoman Empire to take them, although they belonged to Greece, not Turkey.