July 14, 2024

Athens News

News in English from Greece

British museum: "Parthenon marble to be seen in both London and Athens"

The UK is working on a new deal with Greece that would see the Parthenon sculptures in both London and Athens, British Museum chairman George Osborne said Thursday, calling it a win-win situation.

Osborne, a former finance minister, confirmed that the museum is in constructive talks with the Greek government about the marbles, which have been a source of controversy and disagreement between the two European countries for almost 2 centuries. “This is a very difficult problem,” Osborne told BBC Radio. “But I think there is a way forward when these sculptures, the Elgin marbles, the Parthenon sculptures can be seen both in London and in Athens, and it will be a win-win for Greece and for us.”

When asked what these promises mean, he said: “We are talking with the Greek government about this, about a new agreement, and what I did not want to do was force the Greeks to agree to things that they consider impossible, and equally they cannot impose on us things that we would consider impossible.”

The Greek government has said it is negotiating the repatriation of sculptures removed by British diplomat Lord Elgin from the Parthenon temple in Athens in the early 19th century. To do this, Elgin, being the British ambassador to the Ottoman port, forged firman vizier and, barbarously breaking out sculptures and metopes from the Parthenon temple, took them to England, where his heirs sold them to the British Museum. (It is still believed in Britain that Elgin saved the marbles from being destroyed by the Turks, who burned the marbles into lime and melted the lead that held the columns together into bullets.)

But Osborne ruled out a scenario where the sculptures could be transferred permanently, saying it would require a change in British law. powers, he said. “But what the museum can do is try to forge a new relationship with Greece. I’m quite optimistic.”

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