Home World United Kingdom and Greece, “preliminary talks” on the disputed Parthenon marbles

United Kingdom and Greece, “preliminary talks” on the disputed Parthenon marbles

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United Kingdom and Greece, “preliminary talks” on the disputed Parthenon marbles

LONDON – What if the Parthenon Marbles in the British Museum really returned to Athens? The long-standing dispute between the United Kingdom and Greece could find a solution, after the news that the parties held “top secret meetings” in the heart of London: first at the Greek embassy in the wealthy Mayfair district and then, last week, in a five-star hotel in Knightsbridge, where, according to the Greek newspaper Ta Neaeven the Greek prime minister himself would have agreed, Kyriakos Mitsokatisand the president of the British Museum and former Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne.

The parties let it be known that these are “preliminary talks”. But certainly never had such optimism flown from Athens regarding the marbles stolen and transported to London from Lord Elgin, British ambassador to the bankrupt Ottoman Empire and afflicted by syphilis: 75 meters stolen, even violently, of the total 160 of the long and very precious frieze of the ancient Greek marvel, with which Elgin wanted to decorate his villa in Scotland. Finally, the “Elgin marbles” were acquired by the British Museum in 1816, and here we are again talking about this endless diatribe.

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But now there are some signs that something could change in the near future. In recent days there have been secret negotiations in London. According to the Greek authorities, the possibility that one day the marbles can return to Athens is not only “exciting, but also real”. After all, a few days ago, Mitsokatis held a meeting at the London School of Economics in which he spoke of “progress, finally”, and that “a win-win solution is possible”, that is, one that satisfies both parties. Officially, the British Museum has emphasized that it “does not want to dismantle its collection”, but has not denied the presence of President Osborne at the talks with Greek representatives.

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Moreover, as emphasized by theObserver today, last August, the assistant director of the British Museum, Jonathan Williams, had said that the museum “was ready to change the temperature of the debate” by announcing new talks, especially after Unesco itself had called for a solution to the problem at an international and political level. Besides this affair, the two countries have always had excellent relations since the Greek war of independence of 1821. In the past, Greece offered the sale of Greek antiquities that had never left the country in exchange for their definitive return – and not on loan – of the Marbles in Athens. A proposal never accepted by the United Kingdom, at least so far.

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