Greece acknowledges difficult negotiation with British Museum over Parthenon marbles

Greece has demanded since the beginning of the 20th century the return of a 75-meter frieze that was torn from the Parthenon.

The “ongoing” negotiations between Athens and the British Museum for the return of the Parthenon marbles to Greece “are not easy”, admitted yesterday the Greek government spokesman, Yiannis Oikonomou.

“We have come a long way, we are taking steps and the efforts continue. Negotiations are not easy,” the spokesman reiterated without giving further details.

Last week, British media published that the famous London museum could close an agreement with the Greek authorities that would allow the return of these marble sculptures to Athens.

According to the Telegraph, the return to Greece of these treasures would take the form of a “cultural exchange”, which would make it possible to circumvent a British law that prevents the London institution from dismantling its collection.

Following the release of this information, a spokesman for the British Museum indicated that the museum is seeking a “new partnership” with Greece.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, Greece has requested the return of a 75-meter frieze torn from the Parthenon and one of the famous caryatids of the Erechtheus, a small ancient temple also located on the Acropolis of Athens, key pieces in the collection of the British Museum.

Authorities in Britain claim the sculptures were “lawfully acquired” in 1802 by British diplomat Elgin, who sold them to the venue. But Greece alleges that they were “looted” while the country was under Ottoman occupation.

“The purpose is their definitive return,” Oikonomou insisted, arguing that Greece “does not recognize the possession or ownership of the British Museum” over the marbles.