Official Athens' response to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson's position that the Parthenon Marbles legally belong to the British Museum was immediate on Friday, with the relevant culture ministry underling that Greece does not accept the legality and ownership of renowned friezes by the London museum.
In fact, Minister Lina Mendoni said her ministry can immediately present evidence, in order to brief the British public, proving that the British Museum illegally retains the artifacts - more than two centuries after they were sliced off the Parthenon and taken by a notorious English diplomat in what was then Ottoman-ruled Athens.
Johnson was quoted in an interview published by the Athens daily "Ta Nea" as saying that " I understand the strong feelings of the Greek people – and indeed Prime Minister (Kyriakos) Mitsotakis – on the issue... However, the UK government has a long-standing position on the sculptures, which is that they were legally acquired by Lord Elgin, under the appropriate laws of the time and have been legally owned by the British Museum’s trustees since their acquisition."
The statement, Johnson's first on the issue since assuming the premiership, means his government will continue London's refusal to broach the possibility of a repatriation of the friezes to Athens.
Mendoni added that new historical evidence has emerged from the specific era, at the advent of the 19th century, showing that Lord Elgin did not legally acquire the marbles, and by extension, there was no legal ownership established by the museum.