By Penelope Galliou

The displeasure of Athens for the British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak’s inaction, at the expense of our country, by canceling his meeting with his Greek counterpart, is a given and its dimensions have also increased inside the United Kingdom. However, the message that Athens and the Maximos Palace sent from the first moment, in order to avoid the generalization of the diplomatic crisis between Greece and the United Kingdom, is that the personal disrespect of the British Prime Minister will not be allowed to test overall Greek-British relations.

“I do not believe that a wrong move by Rishi Sunak should put Greek-British relations to the test, nor the question of the return of the Virgin Sculptures” repeated government officials in all tones, commenting on the sudden development. And the reason, our country’s long-standing relations with the United Kingdom, with which we have historical ties and multi-layered relationships, allied, economic, diplomatic, which the Greek side clearly does not wish to be disturbed by the misguided attitude of the British Prime Minister, which is even judged to be motivated by personal internal party expediencies.

This climate was reflected both from the Greek and British sides, during the conversation that the two Foreign Ministers of the two countries had on the sidelines of the NATO Foreign Ministers’ Summit. According to diplomatic sources, on the sidelines of the Synod, Greek Minister Giorgos Gerapetritis met with his British counterpart David Cameron, at the request of the latter, a fact which is interpreted as an attempt to re-approach after the diplomatic crisis and appeasement of the reactions caused by the unexpected events. During its duration, Mr. Gerapetritis allegedly pointed out the disagreement of principle that exists regarding the issue of the return of the Parthenon Sculptures. However, the two Ministers agreed that there is a need for cooperation to safeguard the bilateral relations between Greece and the United Kingdom and to address common challenges.

After all, the messages that Athens had to communicate to Rishi Sounak and those who tried to entertain the impressions caused by his indecent decision were resoundingly expressed both by the Greek government and the Prime Minister himself, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, as well as by the majority of of the opposition parties who rushed to defend the national position of our country for the return of the Virgin Sculptures to the place and country where they belong.
Rishi Sunak’s move was taken by Athens not as an insult to the government and the prime minister but to Greece. “He does not show respect not only to the prime minister, because the prime minister represents an entire country and its positions,” commented the government representative, Pavlos Marinakis.

Similar were the reactions from the opposition parties, speaking almost in their entirety for unacceptable movement Sunak, for an issue that concerns a national issue, beyond party positions and confrontations.

The Greek side, however, considers that Rishi Sunak’s indecency as a part of it, it also had as its starting point the internal political scene of Britain, given that he is facing a poll collapse against Keir Starmer’s Labour. “It is a diplomatic indecency of the British, apparently the pressure from the polls led him to this “foul”. There is more than a 20-point difference between the ruling party and the workers”, noted ND MP and internationalist Tasos Hatzivasileiou.