President calls for return of Parthenon Sculptures during dinner with visiting royals
“We hope that the return of the Parthenon Sculptures will, finally, be possible,” President of the Republic Prokopios Pavlopoulos said on Wednesday, during his address at an official dinner at the presidential mansion for visiting British royals Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.
Citing Britain’s long tradition in classical studies, as well as the bilateral cooperation between the two countries in this area, Pavlopoulos noted that this and the ties of friendship between Greece and Britain created hope that the sculptures will eventually return and that the unity of the Parthenon will be restored.
Greece considers the United Kingdom a valuable partner within the European Union, Pavlopoulos said, expressing hope that the final decisions taken in Britain will have its European orientation in mind.
“Regardless of this, however, and under any circumstances, our two countries’ harmonious course, side by side, will continue undisturbed,” he added.
In this context, Greece hopes to continue cooperating closely on the refugee and migration issues, Pavlopoulos said, since these were an enormous challenge for Europe and elsewhere. “It is important that we continue our collective efforts to save lives, to fight the cruel exploitation of people, enhance our cooperation in the management of borders and tackle the many root causes of illegal migration,” he said.
Pavlopoulos once again highlighted the heavy burden placed on Greece as a country of first entry for migrants and refugees, as well as Greece’s continued commitment to the principles of humanity and solidarity, in the midst of a deep economic crisis.
Greece will continue to act as a pillar of stability and peace for the region, especially after its emergence from the long economic crisis, through initiatives it has already launched in the Balkans and the Middle East, he said.
The president’s speech referred to the long historic ties between Greece and the United Kingdom, which dated back to the formation of the modern Greek state, as allies and through the strong naval traditions of both countries. He also pointed out that the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall have visited Greece many times in a private capacity, though this was their first official visit.
He especially praised the royal couple for their charitable work, which he said had supported “hundreds of thousands of people in the UK and around the world.”