Athens expressed its “dismay” with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak over the last-minute change of plans
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis criticized his British counterpart after Downing Street canceled a meeting scheduled in London, where the leader was expected to request the return of Greek antiquities held in UK museums.
Mitsotakis spoke about the canceled talks during his visit to the United Kingdom on Monday, expressing his regret at the loss of the opportunity for dialogue while noting his country’s position. “a favour” The desire to restore the ancient Parthenon sculptures preserved by Britain.
“I [want to] I am disturbed by the fact that the British Prime Minister canceled our scheduled meeting a few hours before it was scheduled to take place. He said. “He who believes in the truth and justice of his opinions is never afraid of opposing arguments.”
The Greek Prime Minister was scheduled to speak with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak after a meeting with Labor leaders on Monday, although the talks were canceled without warning. Mitsotakis’ aides called for the move “Wrong and insulting.” The Greek Prime Minister refused to hold an alternative meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister, according to the BBC.
Officials traveling with Mitsotakis said the decision to cancel the meeting was linked to the Greek leader’s recent comments to the BBC, in which he reiterated ancient Athens’ demands for the return of ancient artefacts. He added that statues should be “Reunion” With the Greek temples from which they were originally taken, saying that the division of the artwork between Greece and the United Kingdom was such “Cutting the Mona Lisa in half.”
The 5th-century marbles were removed from the Greek Parthenon in the early 19th century by British diplomat Lord Elgin, who served as ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, which ruled Greece at the time. These sculptures have remained in the possession of the United Kingdom ever since, with most of the sculptures held in the British Museum in London.
While unnamed sources at 10 Downing Street initially told The Guardian that scheduling conflicts were to blame, the outlet reported that Mitsotakis’ comments “This appears to have angered Sunak so much that he felt there was no reason to hold talks.”
Publicly, a spokesman for Sunak said the relationship between the UK and Greece was good “very important” But it did not address the dispute over the 2,500-year-old relics.
Although Mitsotakis has repeatedly stressed the return of the treasures since taking office, Sunak has previously said he would never support changes to 1963 legislation preventing the British Museum from handing over ancient sculptures at all. The Greek government first requested their return in 1983, but the UK repeatedly refused, even rejecting an offer from the United Nations to mediate the dispute.
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