The Greek Prime Minister expressed his “dismay” that Sunak canceled their meeting, saying he had avoided talks over the disputed marble.
Diplomatic sparks flew after the British Prime Minister abruptly canceled a meeting with his Greek counterpart in which they were scheduled to discuss the long-disputed artefacts.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is scheduled to meet on Monday with visiting Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who intends to raise the profile of the Elgin Marbles, a 2,500-year-old collection of Greek sculpture that Athens wants Britain to restore.
Greece asserts that the marble, which the British diplomat Lord Elgin took from the Parthenon in the early nineteenth century, was stolen, which Britain denied.
This issue has been a source of contention between the two countries for decades.
In a statement, Mitsotakis expressed his “dismay” at the British Prime Minister’s cancellation of their meeting at the last minute, accusing him of evading the issue.
Greece’s position on the issue of the Parthenon’s friezes is well known. “I wish I had the opportunity to discuss it with my British counterpart.”
He added, “Those who believe in the correctness and correctness of their positions are never afraid to face arguments.”
Mitsukis has reportedly rejected an offer from the UK to meet Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden instead.
In response to Mitsotakis’ statement, a Downing Street spokesman said: “The relationship between the UK and Greece is very important,” citing joint work within NATO and “tackling shared challenges such as illegal immigration” and wars in Ukraine and the Middle East.
“The Deputy Prime Minister was available to meet with the Greek Prime Minister to discuss these important issues,” the spokesman added, without referring to the marble issue.
A decades-old dispute
The sculptures were taken from the Parthenon on the Acropolis in Greece in the early 19th century by British diplomat Thomas Bruce, Earl of Elgin.
Britain insists it obtained the Bibles legally.
According to the Greek news agency ANA, citing sources within the Greek government, the British Prime Minister appeared to be upset by the statements made by his Greek counterpart to the BBC on Sunday.
In his comments, Mitsotakis likened the collection at the British Museum to the Mona Lisa that was cut in half.
A source from Britain’s ruling Conservative Party told the radio on Monday that “it has become impossible for this meeting to go ahead after the comments regarding Elgin Marbles before it.”
The British government has always ruled out giving up ownership of the marble sculptures, which include about half of the 160-meter-long frieze that adorns the Parthenon.
However, Athens has recently been pushing for a deal that would see the sculptures returned under some type of loan arrangement.
The Financial Times reported last week that British opposition leader Keir Starmer would not block a “mutually acceptable” loan deal to buy the sculptures. The meeting between Mitsotakis and Starmer on Monday went ahead as planned.
But Sunak’s spokesman said on Monday that the UK government “has no plans to change our approach, and we certainly believe that will happen.” [British] The museum is the place” for marble.
“Travel specialist. Typical social media scholar. Friend of animals everywhere. Freelance zombie ninja. Twitter buff.”