Greece to seek return of Elgin Marbles in meeting with Boris Johnson

Greece is renewing a bid to seek the return of ancient sculptures removed from the Parthenon at the Acropolis in Athens more than 200 years ago from the British Museum, a government official said.

Giannis Oikonomou, a government spokesman, told reporters the issue would be raised at a scheduled meeting in London on Tuesday between Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Greek counterpart Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis
Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he intends to raise the issue with Boris Johnson (PA)

The marbles, 17 figures and part of a frieze that decorated the 2,500-year-old Acropolis monument, were taken by Lord Elgin, the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, in the early 19th century.

Britain maintains that Elgin acquired the sculptures legally when Greece was ruled by the Ottomans.

Parthenon Marbles
The Elgin marbles were removed from the Acropolis more than 200 years ago (PA)

“The obligation to return the Parthenon sculptures is entirely up to the government of the United Kingdom,” Mr Oikonomou said.

He added that the Greek request for government-to-government talks on the issue was backed by the United Nations’ cultural agency, Unesco.

Greece has said the new Acropolis Museum that opened in 2009 would be used to display the sculptures if they were returned.