Turkey’s artifacts move panics West museums

04 Jan 2013 12:52 PM | Anonymous

Turkey’s artifacts move panics West museums

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News

Western museums appear to be panicking as Turkey continues to facilitate the return of many stolen artifacts, says Culture Minister Ertuğrul Günay

Culture Minister Ertuğrul Günay, who has been criticized in Western circles for his efforts to secure the return of stolen cultural artifacts, says their reactions demonstrate that he is correct. DAILY NEWS photo/ Hasan ALTINIŞIK

Culture Minister Ertuğrul Günay, who has been criticized in Western circles for his efforts to secure the return of stolen cultural artifacts, says their reactions demonstrate that he is correct. DAILY NEWS photo/ Hasan ALTINIŞIK

    Barçın YinançBarçın Yinançbarcin.yinanc@hurriyet.com.tr

    Turkey remains committed to repatriating all the artifacts that have been stolen from its soil over the years, Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay has said while expressing hopes that regional neighbors will also receive back their ancient treasures.

    “Western museums are very concerned about the establishment of a joint policy in Eastern Europe and the Middle East,” he recently told the Daily News. “I see that museums in Europe are in panic. People with self-confidence don’t react like that.”

    What did Ertuğrul Günay do differently from his predecessors to effect the return of so many stolen archaeological artifacts?

    We acted resolutely. We pursued each case with persistence. We also became conscious of the cards in our hands and started to use them. We became aware of the importance of the means in our hands.

    Can you elaborate?

    There are lots of artifacts, especially in several European museums. If we find out that an artifact which we can prove was illegally taken out of Turkey, we ask for the return of that piece. Our museums have an important inventory; you can’t hold certain exhibitions, for instance an Ottoman exhibition or an exhibition on Eastern Roman civilization, by discounting our museums. When a museum seeks our cooperation to hold an exhibition, and if that museum has a stolen artifact, then we ask for the return of that piece. 

    Second, there are numerous archaeological excavations in Turkey. Of the more than 120 excavations, 40 are being conducted by foreign institutes. The findings in these excavations are very important for archaeology. We remind them that although museums and excavations are two separate issues, at the end of the day, if we are pursuing scientific cooperation, this needs to rely on ethical rules and we should be watching reciprocally over our rights. 

    http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/PrintNews.aspx?PageID=383&NID=37463

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