Disappointment and Surprise
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak cancelled a scheduled meeting with Greek counterpart Kyriakos Mitsotakis, triggering a heated dispute over the Elgin Marbles. Mitsotakis had intended to ask Sunak for the return of the ancient sculptures.
Left Baffled and Annoyed
Sunak's absence from the meeting left Mitsotakis "baffled" and "annoyed," according to sources. A spokesperson for the Greek PM expressed disappointment and surprise, referring to the cancellation as a last-minute decision.
British Museum Stance
Despite Greece's longstanding demand for the return of the Elgin Marbles, Sunak has maintained that the British Museum is the rightful home for the treasures, which were removed from Greece by Lord Elgin in the 19th century. Mitsotakis compared their loss to cutting the Mona Lisa in half.
Last year, EU leaders insisted that the marbles be returned to Greece as a condition for a trade deal with Britain. However, a UK Government spokesperson stated that the issue of the Elgin Marbles would not be up for discussion in trade negotiations.
The cancellation of the meeting and the ongoing dispute over the marbles risked souring relations between the UK and Greece just two weeks before talks are set to begin. Greece has persistently pressed for the repatriation of the 2,500-year-old sculptures, which were taken from the Parthenon over two centuries ago.
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