Truss rejects repatriating Parthenon marbles to Greece
Truss' refusal to go through with the restoration of the sculptures will almost certainly cause friction as Greek PM Mitsotakis stressed during his UNGA speech that the marble artworks will return home.
UK's Prime Minister Liz Truss stated this week in an interview for the British TV and radio channel GB News that she “does not support” the restitution of the Parthenon sculptures from the British Museum back to their origin in Greece.
Her answer came as she was asked about the agreement with Greece proposed by the chairman of the British Museum, George Osborne, who in June suggested that the long-disputed ownership of the marbles could end with a deal "where we can tell both stories in Athens and in London if we both approach this without a load of preconditions, without a load of red lines.”
The Parthenon Marbles, a collection of 5th-century BCE architectural masterpieces, are at the center of one of the highest-profile restitution cases in history, which were removed from the Parthenon temple. It was located on the Acropolis in Athens in the early 19th century until it was taken by British diplomat Lord Elgin when the country was under Ottoman rule.
The restitution decision was taken last November during former PM Boris Johnson's term but was handed over to Truss after her succession. With the possibility of halting that decision, Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis may talk Truss into reconsidering during an intergovernmental meeting set for later this year.
“At a time when Truss will be looking to build her credibility and when the UK is sort of cornered in terms of its overall image after the [Queen Elizabeth II’s] funeral it will be a fantastic gesture, and that’s what I’ll tell her,” Mitsotakis told the Sunday Times. This comes after his UNGA speech in September, in which he said, "No matter how long it will take, the Parthenon marbles will eventually be coming home".
Truss has faced major criticism just a month into her term as PM, from failed promises to failing policies. Her term has witnessed the British pound plummeting to its lowest rate against the US dollar since 1971, a great recession almost taking over the UK, and her own party, known as the Tories, decrying her actions as an unfit PM. Most recently, among her worst decisions are the possibility of revoking 570 laws that protect the environment in the UK, refusing to levy a windfall tax on oil corporations while her country faces the brunt of global warming, and publicly expressing on Tuesday her pro-Israeli stance, for which she proclaimed herself to be a proud "Zionist".
New #British Prime Minister #LizTruss publicly expressed her pro-Israeli stance, following in the footsteps of her predecessors. pic.twitter.com/lSkYUW4vhq— Al Mayadeen English (@MayadeenEnglish) October 4, 2022
A campaign of returning looted artifacts has hit museums across Europe and the UK as the British Museum has recently faced controversy for holding the Benin Bronzes (looted from Benin City, in modern-day Nigeria) to the Rosetta Stone (originally from Egypt) and Hoa Hakananai’a (a stone sculpture taken from Easter Island). The Horniman Museum in London announced back in August its intentions to return 72 treasured artifacts, including its collection of Benin bronzes, to Nigeria in what experts described as an “immensely significant” moment.
In a statement this past summer, and possibly in response to public outcry and protests in June, the British Museum relayed that it "is always willing to consider requests to borrow any objects from the collection, we lend between 4,000 to 5,000 objects every year. For instance, 170 ancient Hellenic objects are touring Australia and New Zealand where they will reach and inspire new audiences before returning to the museum.”