Tourism and Culture Minister Ömer Çelik. AA photo
Some of the archaeologists currently working at excavation sites around Turkey are not taking their job seriously enough, Tourism and Culture Minister Ömer Çelik has said, according to daily Hürriyet.
Çelik made the comments in an interview with Der Spiegel Magazine at the Berlin International Tourism Bourse, a well-known travel trade fair.
German archeologists have been overseeing excavations at Göbekli Tepe, he said, adding that a total of 11,000 sculptures went missing from the site in 2010. “I am not accusing them of stealing, however, this is evidence that they are not giving sufficient importance to security issues.”
Noting that the archaeologists were also responsible for the security of the excavation site, Çelik said, “Germany will have to pay an insurance fine for the stolen sculptures.”
Çelik also criticized the work and the reactions of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation and of its director, Herman Parzinger. Turkey has been criticized by Parzinger and the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation on the grounds of its allegedly aggressive campaign to reclaim cultural antiquities for the nation.
Çelik said Parzinger had accused Turkey of being chauvinist. “I expect to hear an apology from Mr. Parzinger, for he has said Turkey is chauvinist. I do know what this means but I am against the use of this wording.”
Çelik also said Turkey was demanding the return of five historical artifacts which are currently in Berlin. These include the coffin of Hacı İbrahim Veli’s tomb, the Balıkçı Sculpture (Fisherman sculpture), the mihrab (prayer niche) of Konya’s Beyhekim Mosque, and İznik tiles stolen from the Piyale Mosque.