Tensions between Greece and the United Kingdom seem to be easing over Greek statues on display at the British Museum in Parthenon. On Tuesday evening, Boris Johnson met with the Prime Minister of Greece Griagos Mitsotakis.
The 80-meter fries, purchased by Lord Elgin in Parthenon in 1802, are now on display in the British Museum in London, but Greece has been seeking these works of art for months. These complaints led to a heated debate in March about the acquisition of works of art under the old law from colonial times.
A decision owned by the British Museum
The Greek government yesterday reminded Boris Johnson that it did not see the issue of marble statues as a “noticeable footnote”. The British Prime Minister sided with Mitsotakis in his position by assuring that he understood the “strength of the feelings of the Greek people” in this matter.
Bojo, however, recalled that the decision to return or withdraw these works of art to Greece was not within his purview. Boris Johnson believes the statues were acquired by Lord LG “according to the laws of the time” and have since been “legally kept by the trustees of the British Museum”, and that the decision rests with the museum and that the government has not intervened. In this case. “The British Museum operates within arm’s reach of the government. He was completely free from any political interference … any decision about the location of the Parthenon sculptures belonged to him. He declared.
A position that is considered absurd by activists
The acquisition of these works was done with the formal approval of the Ottoman Empire, and the actions of Lord Elgin were “thoroughly investigated and brought to trial in 1816 by a small parliamentary committee. Legal facts” clarified the British Museum. But Paul Cartridge, a leading professor of Greek culture at Cambridge University and co-chair of the British Committee for the Return of the Parthenon Marbles, told the Guardian that it was a “joke,” a “diversionary tactic” on the part of the government. Considering the age of the investigation into the acquisition of the statues, he explained that “this is nonsense”. “The inventions of 1816 declaring that the Elgin collection belonged to the country must be legally passed by the British Parliament.”
The question of the restoration of works is beyond British borders
The affair sparked a major debate over the withdrawal of British museums from objects imported from other countries during the colonial period. The government’s position on the matter seems to have evolved, sticking to the mantra of “keep explaining” until then. Some British museums announced in 1897 that they were considering returning the bronze statues claimed by Benin, which had been looted by British forces during a voyage.
This year, similar decisions were made in Europe. Germany, for example, is preparing to return to Nigeria a number of bronze statues on display in its museums. On the other side of the channel, Emmanuel Macron, on Wednesday, October 27, decided to return to Benin, where 26 works of art had been stolen from the royal treasures and nearly 130 years ago by the French army.