Chinese President Xi Jinping has weighed in on a long-standing controversy by offering to help Greece retrieve the contested Parthenon Marbles from Britain.
Xi made his comments Tuesday, during the last day of a state visit to Athens, where he met with Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos. The two leaders and their wives visited the Acropolis Museum
, where Pavlopoulos appealed to Xi for support on the diplomatic dispute with Britain.
The Parthenon Marbles
, also known as the Elgin Marbles, are sculptures that once decorated the ancient Parthenon temple. They were removed from the site more than 200 years ago by Lord Elgin, Britain’s ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, and are now housed in the British Museum in London.
The Parthenon Marbles on display at the British Museum. Credit: The Trustees of the British Museum
For decades, Greece has unsuccessfully demanded the artifacts’ return. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair once said
that the statues “belong” to the British Museum, and in 2014 the museum said
the statues “are part of the world’s shared heritage and transcend political boundaries.”
As Xi and Pavlopoulos toured the Acropolis Museum, the Greek president said, “The place for the Parthenon Marbles is here and not in the British Museum. Imagine this place with the Marbles, and (then) imagine how the Marbles are at this moment in the British Museumguar, which is holding them illegally and against every sense of culture.”