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Why the Greek PM won the debate over the Elgin marbles

A growing number of the British public believe that the sculptures held in the British Museum should be reunified with those in the Acropolis Museum in Athens , writes Victoria Hislop. So why did Rishi Sunak seem so offended by Kyriakos Mitsotakis’s remarks?

Saturday 02 December 2023 18:12 GMT
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<p>The British Museum still has the shadow of a scandal over it</p>

The British Museum still has the shadow of a scandal over it

The morning after Greece went into meltdown at the cancellation of a scheduled meeting between the Greek and the British prime ministers, a spokesperson for Rishi Sunak said the Greek government had “provided reassurances that they would not use the visit [of Kyriakos Mitsotakis] to relitigate long-settled matters relating to the ownership of the Parthenon sculptures”.

It was news to me that discussions over ownership of those sculptures were “long-settled”. Since when? The discussion is very much alive – and more hotly debated than ever. Not only do surveys indicate that a growing number of the British public believe that the sculptures held in the British Museum should be reunified with those in the Acropolis Museum in Athens, but the debate constantly grows over ownership of many other cultural artefacts and treasures that have been housed there from the days of empire.

But there is an even more significant factor with the Parthenon sculptures. And this is to do with what I will bluntly call daylight robbery.

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