Culture Minister Lina Mendoni on Friday challenged claims made by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson regarding the so-called Elgin Marbles, saying that there is evidence to show how the Parthenon sculptures were removed from the Acropolis illegally by Britain’s Lord Elgin in the early 19th century.
“Upon careful review of the statements made by UK Prime Minister Mr Boris Johnson, it is clear that he has not been properly informed by the competent state services of his country of the new historical data regarding Greece’s occupation by the Ottomans that show that there was never a legitimate acquisition of the Parthenon sculptures by Lord Elgin and, therefore, neither has the British Museum ever acquired the Sculptures in a legitimate manner,” Mendoni said in an open letter.
“The Ministry of Culture and Sports can provide the necessary documentary evidence that can inform the British people how the British Museum possesses the sculptures illegally,” she said. “For Greece, the British Museum does not have legitimate ownership or possession of the sculptures.”
In an interview with Greek daily Ta Nea on Friday, Johnson claimed that “the UK government has a firm longstanding position on the sculptures which is that they were legally acquired by Lord Elgin under the appropriate laws of the time and have been legally owned by the British Museum’s Trustees since their acquisition.”