Greek PM upset by Britains Rishi Sunak canceling meeting over

Greek PM ‘upset’ by Britain’s Rishi Sunak canceling meeting over Parthenon sculpture row – CNN


Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he was “angry” at the last-minute cancellation of a meeting with his British counterpart Rishi Sunak over comments he made in a television interview about the status of the Parthenon sculptures.

Mitsotakis, who arrived in Britain at the weekend, was due to meet Sunak on Tuesday before the meeting was abruptly put on hold.

The Greek prime minister said in a statement shared by his office on Monday that he was “angry that the British prime minister canceled our planned meeting just hours before its scheduled date,” adding: “Greece and Britain are bound by tradition “friendly ties” and that his country’s attitude to the Parthenon sculptures – currently in the British Museum in London – was “well known”.

“Those who believe in the correctness and justice of their views are not afraid of counterarguments,” he added.

Greece has repeatedly demanded the return of the sculptures removed from the Parthenon temple in Athens by British diplomat Lord Elgin in the early 19th century, when he was ambassador to the Ottoman Empire.

Daniel Leal/AFP/Getty Images/File

Visitors view the Parthenon sculptures, also known as the Elgin Marbles, at the British Museum in London.

On Sunday, Mitsotakis told the BBC in an interview that the sculptures were “essentially stolen” and that his government would continue to push for a deal and push for a “partnership” with Britain.

“This is not about the return of artifacts whose ownership we question. “We believe these sculptures belong to Greece and were essentially stolen,” Mitsotakis said.

“This is a reunification argument. Where is the best place to see what is essentially a monument? It’s as if I told you that if you cut the Mona Lisa in half and you would have half of it in the Louvre and the other half in the British Museum,” he added.

Sunak’s spokesman told reporters on Tuesday that the Greek government had “assured” that it would not use the visit to publicly raise ownership of the Parthenon sculptures and that the meeting had been canceled because those assurances were broken had been.

A Greek government official denied Tuesday that it had promised not to raise the issue publicly.

Mitsotakis’ office said he had hoped to discuss various issues with his British counterpart, including the war in Ukraine, the war between Israel and Hamas and the climate crisis.

Greek government spokesman Pavlos Marinakis said on Tuesday that the decision to cancel the meeting represented “no respect”, while leaders of the Greek opposition parties Syriza and PASOK called the decision “rude” and “unacceptable” and raised the issue of Sculptures as a “matter of national interest.”

Sunak’s office said British Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden was available to meet with Mitsotakis and called the relationship between the two countries “tremendously important.” Mitsotakis – who is on his way back to Greece – decided not to meet Dowden, a Greek official told CNN.