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British Museum’s denial of talks over Parthenon Marbles points to ‘lack of information’

In response to a statement by a representative of the British Museum that no new talks have taken place or are planned with the Greek government for the repatriation of the Parthenon Marbles to Athens, the Greek Culture Ministry said on Wednesday that the representative was not well informed.

“The correspondence between the Ministry of Culture and the British authorities, as well the UNESCO Recommendation on May 20, proves that the representative of the British Museum has a lack of information,” the Culture Ministry said.

In a statement to Kathimerini on Tuesday, the British Museum said it is open to lending the exhibits to Athens.

Last week UNESCO said Greece and the UK had agreed to hold formal talks that could pave the way for the return of the Parthenon sculptures to Athens.

UNESCO said that the two sides had agreed to a meeting at the ministerial level to discuss Greece’s demand.

Greek Culture Minister Lina Mendoni has rejected a recent claim by the British Museum that many of the 2,500-year-old Parthenon sculptures removed by Lord Elgin’s agents in the early 19th century were found “in the rubble” around the monument.

The assertion was made by the London museum’s deputy director, Dr Jonathan Williams, during a meeting of UNESCO on Friday. “Much of the frieze was in fact removed from the rubble around the Parthenon… These objects were not all hacked from the building as has been suggested,” Williams was quoted as saying during the meeting.

In a statement published in the Guardian on Sunday, the Greek minister rebuffed the claim, while accusing Lord Elgin, then British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, of committing serial theft.

“Over the years, Greek authorities and the international scientific community have demonstrated with unshakeable arguments the true events surrounding the removal of the Parthenon sculptures,” Mendoni said. “Lord Elgin used illicit and inequitable means to seize and export the Parthenon sculptures, without real legal permission to do so, in a blatant act of serial theft,” she said.