Greece is preparing a formal request to borrow the Parthenon Marbles from the British Museum for the 2021 celebrations of Greece’s 200-year independence from Turkish rule, Greek Culture Minister Lina Mendoni said Tuesday.
In comments to Skai TV, Mendoni sought to play down concerns that by requesting a “loan” of the Parthenon sculptures from the British Museum, Greece would be tacitly acknowledging the museum’s claims of ownership.
“As this is a matter of theft, it automatically excludes ownership rights,” she said. Any request would be framed in such a way so as to “safeguard Greek claims,” she said.
In return for the loan, Greece could lend the British Museum Greek antiquities, Mendoni added, without elaborating on what those would be.
However, the British Museum said such a request by Greece would only be considered if the country acknowledges its ownership of the Marbles.
“A pre-condition for any loan is the acceptance of the lending institution’s ownership,” a British Museum spokesperson told The Telegraph.
“No museum or gallery in the world would loan objects unless the other institution that was borrowing them accepted ownership,” the spokesperson said.
Earlier in the day, opposition leader and former premier Alexis Tsipras had accused Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis of naivete for planning to request such a loan.
In a post on Facebook, Tsipras said that Mitsotakis’ “naive initiative… allows the British Museum to appear as the rightful owner” of the sculptures, adding that the government should seek their permanent return.
Government sources responded to Tsipras’ post by accusing him of having done nothing tangible in four years in power to secure the Marbles’ return.