“We took care of them for a long time”, explained the British Minister of Culture to justify her refusal. Greece too. However, Michele Donelan on Wednesday ruled out a return to their country of origin of the Parthenon friezes, exhibited at the British Museum in London.

“I was very clear about this: I don’t think they should return to Greece,” the minister told the BBC about this dispute at the heart of tensions between London and Athens. “We shouldn’t send them back, and in fact they belong to the UK. »

“Legally Acquired”

Since the beginning of the 20th century, Greece has officially requested the return of a 75-meter frieze detached from the Parthenon as well as one of the famous caryatids from the Erechtheion, a small ancient temple also on the rock of the Acropolis, all two masterpieces of the British Museum.

London claims the sculptures were “legally acquired” in 1802 by British diplomat Lord Elgin who sold them to the British Museum. But Greece maintains that they were the object of “looting” while the country was under Ottoman occupation.

Press statements

On January 4, the British newspaper The Telegraph revealed that the president of the museum was in the process of reaching an agreement with Athens for the return to Greece of these treasures, within the framework of a long-term loan, a “cultural exchange” which would make it possible to circumvent a British law preventing the museum Londoner to dismantle his collection.

“I think his perspective on this has been misinterpreted and misrepresented. George Osborne (the president of the museum) is not going to fire them. This is not his intention. He has no desire to do so, ”swept the minister. The minister said she feared that a return of these sculptures would open “Pandora’s box”.

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