Italian handover of fragment of Elgin Marbles puts pressure on UK to follow suit

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In return for receiving the fragment on long-term loan, Greece will lend the Sicilian Museum two objects: a marble statue of Athena from the 5th century BC and an amphora from the 8th century BC.

The Museum of Sicily wishes to return the fragment definitively to the Acropolis Museum, but needs permission from the Italian Ministry of Culture to do so.

Dario Franceschini, Italian Minister of Culture, on Wednesday expressed his “great appreciation” for the decision taken by the Sicilian regional government to return the fragment to Athens.

Fagan’s fragment was “the only part of the Parthenon marbles held by Italy,” he said.

Lina Mendoni, Greek Minister of Culture, expressed her “deepest gratitude” for Sicily’s initiative, saying the fragment would be returned to its “natural context”.

“With this gesture, the regional government of Sicily is showing the way for the definitive return of the Parthenon marbles to Athens, the city that created them,” she said.

A stormy relationship

The debate over the ownership of logs has hampered Anglo-Greek relations for decades.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the Greek Prime Minister, reiterated the arguments of his predecessors and said the friezes held by the British Museum should be returned to Athens.

He told the Telegraph last November: “Our position is very clear: the marbles were stolen in the 19th century, they belong to the Acropolis Museum and we need to discuss this issue seriously. “

Boris Johnson told Mitsotakis he understood the “strong feelings” of the Greek people, but insisted he should make his case to the trustees of the British Museum.

The carved friezes were taken from the Parthenon, the ancient Greek temple atop the Acropolis in Athens, by the Seventh Earl of Elgin, the British Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire at the time, between 1801 and 1812 .

The British Museum insists that they were obtained legally and that successive British prime ministers have maintained that their fate rests with the museum, not the government.


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