The British Museum has told Kathimerini that it can confirm that no new talks have taken place or are planned with the Greek government for the repatriation of the Parthenon Marbles to Athens.
In a written response to questions by Kathimerini, the British Museum said that the surviving sculptures in Athens speak to the ancient history of that great city and that in London they speak to the history of the world and to millions of visitors from all over the world.
It added that it is open to lending the exhibits and that it always enjoys a positive and cooperative relationship with UNESCO and with colleagues from institutions around the world – including the Acropolis Museum.
It also said that it wants to expand public access to the world’s cultural heritage.
Last week UNESCO said Greece and the UK had agreed to hold formal talks that could pave the way for the return of the Parthenon sculptures to Athens.
UNESCO said that the two sides had agreed to a meeting at the ministerial level to discuss Greece’s demand.
On Sunday, Greek Culture Minister Lina Mendoni rejected a claim by the British Museum that many of the 2,500-year-old Parthenon sculptures removed by Lord Elgin’s agents in the early 19th century were found “in the rubble” around the monument.
The assertion was made by the London museum’s deputy director, Dr Jonathan Williams, during a meeting of UNESCO last Friday. “Much of the frieze was in fact removed from the rubble around the Parthenon… These objects were not all hacked from the building as has been suggested,” Williams was quoted as saying during the meeting.
In a statement published in the Guardian on Sunday, the Greek minister rebuffed the claim, while accusing Lord Elgin, then British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, of committing serial theft.
“Over the years, Greek authorities and the international scientific community have demonstrated with unshakable arguments the true events surrounding the removal of the Parthenon sculptures,” Mendoni said. “Lord Elgin used illicit and inequitable means to seize and export the Parthenon sculptures, without real legal permission to do so, in a blatant act of serial theft,” she said.