LONDON – Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told the Financial Times that the issue of the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece, seized from Athens in the 19th century, was not a mere footnote in his UK visit and his meeting with his British counterpart, but a point of high interest, he said in an interview with the news outlet on Tuesday.
“There is a rather strong argument for their reunification [with the Acropolis Museum collection],” he noted, and continued: “If I were in the PM’s shoes and I were thinking out of the box in terms of global Britannia, and the idea of Britain really playing a role in the post Brexit world, [it] would be a fantastic coup for public diplomacy if they were to look at this from a different perspective,” he told FT.
“If you go to visit the new Acropolis museum you will understand what I mean. That’s where you need to see the sculptures,” said Mitsotakis, referring to the plaster casts of the sculptures housed in London next to original pieces Elgin left behind. He stressed that the Elgin Marbles are a significant monument and not just any artefact.
Mitsotakis noted that in 1986 Melina Merkouri, the Greek former culture minister and fervent campaigner for the return of the marbles, was invited by Johnson to the Oxford Union to talk on the issue, and at the time he was a passionate supporter of returning the marbles, he stressed.
The Greek premier said he understood the position of the British Museum that a potential return of the Parthenon Marbles could lead to “everyone asking for everything there is in the museum” but insisted that the Elgin Marbles were a “special case”.
Mitsotakis underlined that he would continue to engage both the British government and the British museum on the issue.