Parthenon Marbles to return this year, says Greek official

Parthenon sculptures

Greece is claiming to be on the verge of striking a “win-win” deal with the British Museum over the Parthenon Marbles, which it expects to start returning before the end of the year, the UK times website is reporting

A senior Greek official said the “red lines” regarding ownership of the 2,500-year-old antiquities were immovable and suggested a new “British Museum annexe” at the Acropolis Museum as one of several possible solutions.

They added the British Museum and the Greek government had ruled out any “loan, or trade or swap because any such deal would have to include reference to the contentious issue of ownership, a red line for both sides”.

Before the next round of talks led by the former chancellor George Osborne, now chairman of the British Museum, and Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the Greek Prime minister.

The Parthenon Marbles are more than 2,500-year-old sculptures taken from Athens by Lord Elgin, who sold them to the British government in 1816.

The legality of his venture has been debated for more than 200 years.

Greece formally requested the Marbles' return in the early-1980s, with calls for the artefacts' repatriation becoming louder in subsequent decades.

This year's opinion poll found that some 40% of British people favoured returning the marble to Greece, while 16% wanted to keep them in the UK.