LONDON (AFP) — British Museum officials will attend the inauguration of Greece's New Acropolis Museum next week, it said Friday but insisted its stance on the long-disputed Parthenon Marbles remains unchanged.
A spokeswoman for the museum also stressed that it had not made an offer nor received a request for those sculptures held in London to be loaned to Athens, following comments by a Greek minister this week.
A new museum for the remaining parts of the frieze and other sculptures from the Acropolis is scheduled to open in the Greek capital on June 20, reviving the debate over the significant portions held by the British Museum.
Greece has long pursued a campaign for the return of the priceless friezes. They were removed in 1806 by British ambassador Lord Elgin, when Greece was occupied by the Ottoman Empire, and later sold to the British Museum.
Athens has invited foreign leaders and museum officials to attend the inauguration.
"We have been invited and the museum will be represented at the opening," a British Museum spokeswoman told AFP.
"We're very happy to have the invitation and very happy to go. The New Acropolis Museum is going to be a fantastic achievement and there's great interest from the British Museum to see the new museum and see what they've done.
"But none of that changes the British Museum's position on the retention of the sculptures here in London as part of a worldwide collection."
Greek Culture Minister Antonis Samaras said this week that Athens would turn down any loan offer as it would "legalise the snatching of the Marbles".
The British Museum reiterated its lending pre-condition that any borrowing institutions must acknowledge the museum's ownership of the objects in question.
"You can't lend something if they don't recognise your ownership," the spokeswoman said.
Elgin's acquisition of the sculptures -- with the permission of the Ottoman authorities -- was deemed legal in an 1816 British parliamentary investigation.
Copyright © 2013 AFP. All rights reserved. More »