A diplomatic disagreement arose over the Elgin Marbles as Rishi Sunak declined to meet Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, prompting a cancellation of their scheduled meeting. Mitsotakis sought the return of the Parthenon Sculptures from the British Museum, leading to tensions.
Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden offered an alternative meeting, but it was declined. The UK’s stance remains firm: they support the marbles staying in the British Museum. The canceled meeting raised surprise and disappointment on the Greek side.
The dispute followed Mitsotakis’s comparison of the situation to the Mona Lisa being divided, emphasizing Greece’s long-standing demand for the marbles’ return. Despite discussions about potential loan arrangements, the UK government stands by keeping the marbles in the museum, maintaining their position under the 1963 British Museum Act.
While Mitsotakis met Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer during his UK visit, Labour criticized Sunak’s decision to cancel the meeting, considering it unnecessary.