Elgin marble row erupts as Greek paper launches scathing attack on Sunak

In a fiery response to the recent diplomatic dispute surrounding the Elgin Marbles, a prominent Greek far-right newspaper has unleashed a barrage of criticism directed at Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. The controversy erupted when Sunak abruptly cancelled talks with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, accusing him of breaking promises related to the campaign for the return of the historic artefacts.

The Greek newspaper, ‘Free Hour’, notorious for its bold and provocative stance, has captured the essence of its sentiment with a headline that pulls no punches: “F*** you B*****d!”

The debate over the Elgin Marbles has reignited this week following a diplomatic spat caused by Mr Sunak opting to cancel talks with Mr Mitsotakis at the “11th hour” after accusing him of reneging on a promise not to campaign for their return while in Britain.

READ MORE: Rishi Sunak: Greek PM is ‘grandstanding’ in Elgin Marbles row

No 10 said the Prime Minister felt reassurances were broken after Mr Mitsotakis used a BBC interview on Sunday to compare the current situation with the marbles to the Mona Lisa painting being cut in half and displayed separately.

Greece has long demanded the return of the historic works, which were removed by Lord Elgin from occupied Athens in the early 19th century when he was the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire.

Part of friezes that adorned the 2,500-year-old Parthenon temple on the Acropolis, the Elgin Marbles have been displayed at the British Museum in London for more than 200 years.

The remainder of the friezes are in a purpose-built museum in Athens.

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George Osborne, chairman of the British Museum where the friezes are on display, said he was pressing on with negotiations on the marbles, also known as the Parthenon Sculptures, “whether or not Rishi Sunak meets the Greek Prime Minister”.

Mr Osborne, a former Conservative chancellor, said it was clear from events this week that Mr Sunak’s administration would not support an exchange.

But he said the stance taken by Opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer – who met Mr Mitsotakis in London this week – could pave the way for it to happen under a future Labour government.

A spokesman for Sir Keir has said his potential premiership would “not spend any time legislating on this matter” but that it “wouldn’t stand in the way” of a mutually beneficial agreement between the museum and Athens.

The 1963 British Museum Act prohibits the removal of objects from the institution’s collection, a position in law that Mr Osborne said would ensure Greece would have to return the sculptures following any exchange.

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