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British Museum says it's in 'constructive' discussions over Parthenon marbles

Published 5th January 2023
FILE PHOTO: A man looks at the Parthenon Marbles, a collection of stone objects, inscriptions and sculptures, also known as the Elgin Marbles, on show at the British Museum in London October 16, 2014. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez/File Photo
Credit: Dylan Martinez/Reuters/File
British Museum says it's in 'constructive' discussions over Parthenon marbles
Written by ReutersLondon, UK
The British Museum said on Wednesday it was holding "constructive discussions" with Greece over the Parthenon Sculptures amid renewed speculation that the 2,500-year-old marbles could soon be returned to Athens.
Greece has repeatedly called for the permanent return of the sculptures that British diplomat Lord Elgin removed from the imposing Parthenon temple in Athens in the early 19th century, when he was ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, which then ruled Greece.
The Greek government said last month it was in talks over their repatriation, and Britain's Daily Telegraph reported on Wednesday that an agreement had been drawn up between the museum's chairman, former finance minister George Osborne, to allow them to be returned as part of an exchange deal.
Five girls walk in a single file, part of a collection of stone objects, inscriptions and sculptures, known as the Elgin Marbles displayed at the Parthenon Marbles' hall at the British Museum in October 2014.
Five girls walk in a single file, part of a collection of stone objects, inscriptions and sculptures, known as the Elgin Marbles displayed at the Parthenon Marbles' hall at the British Museum in October 2014. Credit: Dylan Martinez/Reuters/File
The paper reported such an arrangement, which would in effect be a loan arrangement, could be concluded soon. However, Greek officials have said discussions were at a preliminary stage.
"We've said publicly, we're actively seeking a new Parthenon partnership with our friends in Greece and as we enter a new year constructive discussions are ongoing," the British Museum said in a statement.
The museum, custodian of the "Elgin Marbles" which include about half of the 160-meter (525-foot) frieze that adorned the Parthenon, has always ruled out a permanent return for the sculptures, saying they were legally acquired and UK law prevented it from breaking up its collection.
The Head of a horse of Selene, part of a collection of stone objects, inscriptions and sculptures, known as the Elgin Marbles, is displayed at the Parthenon Marbles' hall at the British Museum in October 2014.
The Head of a horse of Selene, part of a collection of stone objects, inscriptions and sculptures, known as the Elgin Marbles, is displayed at the Parthenon Marbles' hall at the British Museum in October 2014. Credit: Dylan Martinez/Reuters/File
A spokesperson for the Greek government said there had not been any further discussions with British government officials recently, but its request for the return of the sculptures was ongoing.
"There hasn't been a new development on this front," the spokesperson said. "The government with professionalism and full respect for all the parameters of this issue will continue to pursue the best possible result, aiming at the reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures."