British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, ruled out modifying the law that prohibits the British Museum from definitively returning the Parthenon marbles to Greece.
Sunak said there are no plans to change the legislation, which states that the museum can only dispose of items from its collection in limited circumstances. However, the museum could organize a loan of the sculptures
Since its independence in 1832, Greece has repeatedly demanded the return of the sculptures – known in the UK as the elgin marbles— that British diplomat Lord Elgin removed from the Parthenon temple in Athens in the early 19th century, when Greece was under Ottoman rule.
Sunak is unlikely to break with the positions of his two predecessors, both of whom were opposed to any kind of loan of the marbles to Greece.
“The UK has cared for the Elgin Marbles for generations. Our galleries and museums are funded by taxpayers because they are a huge asset to this countrySunak told reporters on his plane as he flew to the United States.
“We share its treasures with the world and the world comes to uk to see them. The British Museum’s collection is protected by law and we have no plans to change it.”
Former Minister of Economy George Osborne, Chairman of the British Museum, has been working on a new deal with Greece whereby the sculptures could be seen in both London and Athens.
The Parthenon Project, backed by British politicians from different political parties to settle the issue, said on Sunday that the British Museum’s Parthenon collection could be returned to Greece under a long-term cultural partnership agreement.
The Elgin Marbles are one of the main attractions of the British Museum, which also shows other pieces from ancient Greece and other historical cultures, such as Egypt. Athens demands its delivery and the two parties have been talking about it for more than a year, in discreet contacts that London is now putting a stop to.
The British Minister for Culture, Michele Donelanhad already ruled out in January any possibility of returning to Greece the parthenon marblesdenying press information.
“I’ve been very clear about it, I don’t think [los mármoles] should return to Greece,” he told the BBC. “We shouldn’t return them, and in fact they belong to the UK, where we’ve been looking after them for a long time,” he added.
Donelan told the radio of the BBC that a deal allegedly brokered by British Museum Chairman George Osborne did not concern the permanent return to Greece of the ancient sculptures.
That was “not his intention,” Donelan said, referring to Osborne, a former finance minister under former prime minister David Cameron.
such a move “I would open a can of worms” and “it would open the door to the question of all the content of our museums,” he said.
(With information from EP, AFP and Reuters)
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