State Minister Giorgos Gerapetritis said that although there is a “common understanding”, many details are still pending
London, Thanasis Gavos
The Minister of State George Gerapetritis confirmed to the Guardian newspaper that it is involved in “preliminary” talks on the Parthenon sculptures with the chairman of its Board of Commissioners of Administration British Museum.
“It is true that there is a dialogue between the Greek government and the British Museum. At the moment they are preliminary discussions and yes, I have met the president of the British Museum, George Osborne”, said Mr Gerapetritis to the correspondent of the British newspaper in Athens.
His statements come after the publication of the newspaper “Ta Nea” about Mr. Osborne’s secret meetings with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias and Mr. Gerapetritis
According to the Minister of State, although there is a “common understanding”, many details are still pending. “The discussions are not very specific. I would say that we are trying to establish a good channel of dialogue,” explained the minister, who said he had an order from the Greek prime minister to pursue further discussions.
Mr Gerapetritis added that there are many “red lines”, such as the 1963 law prohibiting the British Museum from removing objects from its collections and the issue of the ownership of the Sculptors, with the Greek side excluding the case of “loan”.
“There is still a long way to go, but we will continue with our talks. It is very good that we are now trying to establish a much wider collaboration with the British Museum, a collaboration that does not only concern classical antiquities but also Byzantine treasures that we would be willing to send (to London),” added Mr Gerapetritis.
In a statement, a representative of the British Museum stated that the institution “will talk to anyone, including the Greek government”, referring to the statement made months ago by the deputy director of the Museum about the intention of “new cooperation for the Parthenon with Greece”.
At the same time, however, the representative noted that the British Museum operates “within the law”, which prohibits the removal of exhibits. “We will not dismantle our great collection as it tells a unique story of our shared humanity. But we are looking for new positive, long-term partnerships with countries and communities around the world and that of course includes Greece,” added the British Museum in its statement.
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