Marble statue from the East pediment of the Parthenon

Talks over Elgin Marbles break down between Greek and UK PMs

Marble statue from the East pediment of the Parthenon CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Sunak declines meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis over “long-settled matters relating to the ownership of the Parthenon Sculptures.”

A meeting between Rishi Sunak and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, due to take place today, was cancelled hours before it was set to go ahead.

The discussion, which was reportedly set to include the fate of the Elgin Marbles (also known as the Parthenon sculptures) at the British Museum.

The meeting, which was set to take place instead with Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden, was declined.

The Telegraph reports Sunak’s spokesman said “the Greek government provided reassurances that they would not use the visit as a public platform to re-litigate long-settled matters relating to the ownership of the Parthenon Sculptures.

“Given those assurances were not adhered to, the Prime Minister felt it would not be productive to hold a meeting dominated by that issue, rather than the important challenges facing Greek and British people.”

Mitsotakis said in a statement: “I had hoped to have the opportunity to discuss them with my British counterpart.

“I express my annoyance that the British Prime Minister cancelled our planned meeting just hours before it was due to take place.”

“Greece’s positions on the issue of the Parthenon Sculptures are well known. Anyone who believes in the rightness and justice of his positions is never afraid of confronting arguments,” he said.

A meeting between Mitsotakis and opposition leader Keir Starmer reportedly went ahead on Monday as planned.

The Financial Times reports that Starmer would not block a “mutually acceptable” loan deal for the sculptures, a position much closer to that of the British Museum’s Chair George Osbourne.

Earlier this month Osbourne said the museum would “look for a partnership” with Greece around the sculptures “that requires no one to relinquish their claims, asks for no changes to laws which are not ours to write, but which finds a practical, pragmatic and rational way forward.”