The British Telegraph underlines and reveals to the British public the inconsistency in the attitude of the British Prime Minister, on the occasion of the publication of the Youth which brings to light the letters of the then young student Boris Johnson to Melina Merkouri. The 1986 letters in question reveal that Boris Johnson resented the government’s decision not to return the Parthenon sculptures.
Boris Johnson has rejected any request to return the sculptures to Greece, insisting they were obtained legally. However, while he was a student at Oxford University, it appears that in letters he sent to the then minister Melina Merkouri he had passionately defended the return of the Sculptors.
More specifically, with two letters he sent, which came to light, he expresses himself as a young man passionately in favor of the return of the marbles to Greece, accusing Lord Elgin of the “absolute plunder” that meant their transfer to Britain.
The previously unpublished letters were written in 1986. At the time, the young Boris Johnson was doing his undergraduate studies at Oxford University while also being president of the Oxford Union. In fact, in his letters he accused the British government of “sophistication and intransigence”.
It is worth noting that Boris Johnson, then 21, claimed that the British government’s policy was “unacceptable to cultured people” while expressing his sadness at the scandalous handling.
The letters, which were revealed by the newspaper Ta Nea, were written with Melina Merkouri as the final recipient, with the then young student unreservedly in favor of reunification. It was also claimed that Lord Elgin moved without securing the legal permits, which “shaken” the British government even more.
However, now Prime Minister Boris Johnson rejected the Greek Prime Minister’s immediate request for the return of the sculptures, claiming that they rightfully belong to the British Museum.
In an interview with Nea in March 2021, he said: “I understand the strong feelings of the Greek people – and especially the prime minister – on the issue. But the UK government has a consistent long-standing position on the sculptures, which is that they were lawfully acquired by Lord Elgin under the laws of the day and have been lawfully owned by the trustees of the British Museum since acquisition.’
It is worth noting that in the letters he wrote as a young student he pointed out that even the Turkish authorities “denied that the people who had sold these sculptures had any right to dispose of them. Boris Johnson accused Lord Elgin of taking advantage of the “near anarchy” of the Ottoman Empire to remove them.
According to the newspaper, the letters were discovered in an Oxford library and their authenticity has been confirmed by an Oxford img as well as a person serving as a Greek state official at the time.
The revelation comes six months after the News republished an April 1986 article by Boris Johnson urging the British government to return the Sculptures to Greece, claiming they had been illegally removed from the ancient temple in Athens.
Of course, Whitehall imgs claim that Johnson wrote the article in a momentary burst of youthful enthusiasm, but later changed his mind. However, his wording in one of the letters “I think the majority of students will agree with me when I say that there is absolutely no reason why the Sculptures, the most important and beautiful treasures left to us by the ancient world, should not they must be immediately returned by the British Museum to their rightful home in Athens.”
In any case, those who are in favor of the reunification and repatriation of the Glyptos claim that the fact that these letters have seen the light of day will put further pressure on the British government to reach an agreement with Greece, while they also highlight the hypocrisy of the British Prime Minister .
Source: News Beast