Mr Johnson met with Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Tuesday evening, who once again raised the issue of the 2,500-year-old stones. While the Greek prime minister raised the issue once again, Mr Johnson insisted it was a case for the trustees of the British Museum. Mr Johnson did add, however, that he understood the “strength of feeling” of the Greek people.
He said: “Prime Minister Mitsotakis raised the issue of the Parthenon Sculptures.
“The Prime Minister said that he understood the strength of feeling of the Greek people on this issue, but reiterated the UK’s longstanding position that this matter is one for the trustees of the British Museum.
“The leaders agreed that this issue in no way affects the strength of the UK-Greece partnership.”
Despite the request from the Greek prime minister, the UK has insisted the marbles were legally obtained by the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, Lord Elgin in 1816.
The sculptures were made between 447BC to 432BC and had adorned the Acropolis in Athens.
Lord Elgin removed the remaining statues from the ruins before they were transported to the British Museum.
In order to reclaim the marbles, culture officials from Greece have discussed sending the Artemision Bronze and the golden Mask of Agamemnon as part of a deal to return the marbles, according to The Times.
Ahead of his meeting with the Prime Minister, Mr Mitsotakis insisted the Elgin Marbles had been stolen and should be returned to Greece.
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“We are advocating for the reunification of the marbles, I will be making my case to the British Prime Minister.
“I think the general approach that these marbles belong to the British Museum, they’ve always been there, is slightly anachronistic.”
He also claimed Greece would be open to exchanging some treasurers which have not left the country in exchange.
A statement from the British Museum trustees claimed there is a benefit of splitting the sculptures between Greece and the UK.
The trustees also insisted a loan request has never been put forward by the Greek government.
They said: “Each year millions of visitors, free of charge, admire the artistry of the sculptures and gain insight into how ancient Greece influenced – and was influenced by – the other civilisations that it encountered.
“The Trustees firmly believe that there’s a positive advantage and public benefit in having the sculptures divided between two great museums, each telling a complementary but different story.”
Additional reporting by Martyn Brown.