The Greek government is ramping up its pressure on Britain and the British Museum for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Athens, a move that has pleased many in Greece and across the globe.
On a recent trip to London, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis raised the issue with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and followed up with a strategic campaign that also saw Mitsotakis appear on a British television talk show and write an open letter in the British newspaper Mail on Sunday.
At every opportunity Mitsotakis reiterated Greece’s standing demand for the return of the Parthenon Marbles. He stressed that the time has come to meet Greece’s fair request and see to the restoration of the monument in its entirety at the Acropolis Museum.
“Our request is not a flare. We will insist, methodically, to build the necessary foundations within British public opinion for the need to reunite the Parthenon Marbles with the sculptures of the Acropolis Museum,” Mitsotakis told journalists in London. “It is an important issue, one that relates to our bilateral relations.”
His comments during the trip thrusted the issue back onto the front pages of the global press, and have been applauded by those who have been working for years to ensure the return of the Parthenon Marbles to the Greek capital.
Elly Symons, the co-vice president of the Australian Committee for the return of the Parthenon Marbles, says her group is thrilled that Mitsotakis has taken the front foot on the issue.
“We believe it is an intergovernmental issue that warrants discussion by the leaders of both countries and for too long the issue has been relegated to one between two museums,” Symons told The Pappas Post. “This downgrading of the issue suits the British perfectly and has contributed to the stalemate which has kept the Sculptures hostage in the British Museum.”
Symons believes that now that Mitsotakis has had direct talks with his British counterpart, he has made it clear that he is looking to find a solution and will facilitate one that is palatable to the British.
“Johnson knows that he is dealing with a Greek leader who is determined to right this historical, moral, legal and cultural wrong,” she said.
Symons believes Mitsotakis was eloquent and effective on British TV, which she claims “was received exceptionally well by Britons.”
“It achieved more than most lobbying has been able to for decades since Melina Mercouri fronted the British directly,” Symons said.
But there is still more work to be done.
“Now that Johnson has been primed to understand that the issue is not going away and can no longer be avoided, it is necessary for Mitsotakis to continue to apply this pressure with his charming determination,” she said. “The Greek State has finally shown their teeth and I have always felt that the issue is a political one, hence a political solution is required.”
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