British PM fuels diplomatic dispute with Greece over Parthenon sculptures

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak fuelled a diplomatic row with Athens on Wednesday by accusing his Greek counterpart Kyriakos Mitsotakis of "grandstanding" during a recent trip to London over ownership of the Parthenon sculptures.

Publication: 30.11.2023 - 11:01
British PM fuels diplomatic dispute with Greece over Parthenon sculptures
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Sunak told parliament he had cancelled a planned meeting with Mitsotakis in London on Tuesday after the Greek premier broke a promise not to use his trip as an opportunity to advocate for the return of the sculptures, known in Britain as the Elgin Marbles, from the British Museum.

In his first public comments, Sunak said: "It was clear that the purpose of the meeting was not to discuss substantive issues for the future, but rather to grandstand and relitigate issues of the past."

Responding to Sunak's comments, a senior Greek government official said: "In the spirit of the good longstanding relations between the two countries, which we intend to preserve, we have nothing more to add on this matter."

Sunak cancelled the meeting after Mitsotakis discussed the issue during an interview for the BBC at the weekend. The cancellation prompted an angry response from Mitsotakis, and Greek government officials said it was disrespectful.

Earlier on Wednesday, Mitsotakis appeared ready to tone down the rhetoric, calling the cancellation of the meeting an "unfortunate event".

"I believe the move will not hurt relations between Greece and Britain in the longer term," he told Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou, adding that Athens' demand for the reunification of the Parthenon sculptures had got more publicity than expected due to the turmoil.

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