Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Sunday that negotiations over the British Museum’s return of the Parthenon sculptures were not progressing quickly enough.
He is preparing for a meeting with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
Athens has long campaigned for the return of the Elgin Marbles, for which the pieces are known. The Parthenon’s 75-metre frieze, 15 metopes and 17 sculptures were removed by diplomat Lord Elgin in the early 19th century when he was ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, which ruled Greece.
“We have not made as much progress as we would like in the negotiations,” Mitsotakis told BBC television on Sunday. “I am a patient man, we have waited hundreds of years and I will continue to insist on discussions.”
“We feel that the sculptures belong to Greece and that they were stolen,” Mitsotakis said, before downplaying the ownership aspect of the debates and focusing on the importance of bringing the sculptures back to Athens.
British officials say the works were legally acquired. In March, Tsuna rejected any changes to the law that would have prevented the British Museum from permanently returning the marbles to Greece, but the law did not prohibit the loan.
Former British Chancellor of the Exchequer and current chairman of the museum’s board of directors, George Osborne, expressed hope for an agreement for the sculptures “to be seen in Athens”.
Mitsotakis is due to meet Tsunak on Tuesday, a day after a meeting with Keir Starmer, leader of Britain’s opposition Labor party, which is leading in opinion polls ahead of the 2024 election.
The Financial Times reported last week that Starmer would not stand in the way of a “mutually acceptable” loan deal.
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