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FT Report Says Mitsotakis Secretly Discussed Return of Parthenon Marbles

February 10, 2023

LONDON – Before a potential deal unraveled, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis secretly talked with British Museum Chairman George Osborne about a deal for return of the Parthenon Marbles, the idea of a loan on the table, said The Financial Times.

The British newspaper said the two negotiated the fate of the marbles privately after Osborne earlier said the best offer would be a loan and that Greece would have to agree they were owned by the British Museum.

According to the report, which also includes comments from an interview with Mitsotakis, there were ongoing talks sine November 2021 that were conducted at a London hotel to escape scrutiny.

The arrangement reportedly discussed would see the museum send the marbles back in rotating batches over a set period such as 10 years and try to avoid wording over the real ownership.

Critics, including Greece’s major rival SYRIZA – which, while in power gave up a court fight for return of the marbles  – said Mitsotakis was using them as a political ploy to gain votes ahead of spring elections.

“It would be a big problem for Mitsotakis to accept a ‘loan’ of what he regards as Greek property,” the report said, and after Culture Minister Lina Mendoni – who worked out a similar deal for a staggered return of Cycladic treasures from a New York collector – kept saying they were stolen property.

The report added that “talks are also under way on a legal agreement whereby Greece entering into a contract with the British Museum would not force Athens to accept the museum’s ownership of the marbles on principle,” leaving the legal status in limbo.

 

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