British PM’s snub ‘disrespectful’ to Greece, says gov’t spokesman

Greece
Tue, 28 Nov 2023 8:49 GMT
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s decision to cancel a meeting with his Greek counterpart in London just hours before Kyriakos Mitsotakis was expected at 10 Downing Street, is “unprecedented” and “disrespectful,” the government spokesman in Athens said on Tuesday.
British PM’s snub ‘disrespectful’ to Greece, says gov’t spokesman

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s decision to cancel a meeting with his Greek counterpart in London just hours before Kyriakos Mitsotakis was expected at 10 Downing Street, is “unprecedented” and “disrespectful,” the government spokesman in Athens said on Tuesday.

“It is not something that is done. We are looking for a precedent and cannot find one,” Pavlos Marinakis told Skai TV, after Mitsotakis was informed on Monday evening that his meeting with Sunak on Tuesday was being called off, adding that the move was “not only disrespectful to the Greek prime minister but also to the Greek people.”

“We are assuming the obvious, that he [Sunak] was annoyed by comments reiterating the country’s fixed position on the return of the Parthenon Sculptures,” Marinakis said, referring to an interview Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis gave to the BBC on Sunday, where he repeated Greece’s demands for the return of the marbles.

“Expressing a difference is better, especially when a prime minister from a different country is on a visit with a heavily laden agenda, like the Mideast crisis,” Marinakis told Skai, echoing an earlier statement by Mitsotakis in which the Greek prime minister expressed irritation over the meeting’s cancellation, saying that he had been planning to discuss a number of other issues with Sunak, including the wars in Ukraine and the Middle East, and migration.

The Financial Times on Tuesday quoted a senior British Conservative party official as confirming that the meeting “became impossible… following commentary regarding the Elgin Marbles prior to it.”

“Our position is clear: the Elgin Marbles are part of the permanent collection of the British Museum and belong here. It is reckless for any British politician to suggest that this is subject to negotiation,” the official told the FT.

The comment is believed to indicate Sunak’s annoyance at Mitsotakis’ meeting on Monday with the leader of the opposition Labour party, Sir Keir Starmer, who has indicated that he would not oppose an agreement between the British Museum and the Greek government for returning the sculptural decorations stripped from the Parthenon by Lord Elgin in the early 19th century.

kathimerini

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