Austrian excavation crew wait for new Turkish culture minister to give green light on Ephesus
Ömer Erbil – İZMİR
Austrian archaeologists who had to stop excavations on the ancient city of Ephesus in September 2016 due to a diplomatic row between Turkey and Austria will resume their works once Turkey’s new Culture Minister Mehmet Ersoy gives the go-ahead.
The ancient city of Epehsus is located three kilometers southwest of the present-day Selçuk district in the Aegean province of İzmir.
In September 2016, upon the request of the Turkish Foreign Ministry, the Culture Ministry ordered archaeological excavations in the ancient city, carried out by the Austrian Archaeology Institute led by Associate Professor Sabine Ladstätter, to be halted just two months before excavation season was to come to an end.
But, this year it was announced that Austrian archeologists were allowed to resume their works in Ephesus.
The statement came after Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and his Austrian counterpart Karsin Kneissl met twice early this year in a means to bolster bilateral ties.
Kneissl later thanked Turkey for its decision in a post made on her official Twitter account. Kneissl said on May 3 she was “delighted” to see the team would be able to resume its “important work” in Ephesus. “Thank you Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu for this good and concrete result of our first meeting in Istanbul last January,” she also said.
Officials at the Turkish Foreign Ministry have confirmed to daily Hürriyet that the ministry has already given an approval for the excavation works to resume, but a signature of the newly appointed Culture Ministry Mehmet Ersoy was needed.
Ties between Turkey and Austria had soured due to restrictions imposed by Austrian authorities on Turkish politicians who wanted to campaign in the country ahead of a key referendum in 2017 in Turkey.
Their relations improved when Kneissl paid a visit to Istanbul in January this year. The two countries agreed to make some decisions as a step toward normalizing their relations during Çavuşoğlu’s visit to Vienna in March.