‘We expect return of all artifacts in 2013,’ says Turkey's Culture Minister Günay

‘We expect return of all artifacts in 2013,’ says Turkey's Culture Minister Günay

AFYON - Anatolia News Agency
‘We expect return of all artifacts in 2013,’ says Turkeys Culture Minister Günay

AA photo

Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay has again commented on Turkey’s campaign to retrieve historical artifacts, saying: “We only want the stolen artifacts, this means the artifacts that were taken without permission and without any documents. There are lots of these.”

Günay was speaking at the construction site of the new Afyonkarahisar Museum in the western province of Afyonkarahisar. The construction of the museum started last year and is expected to be finished by the end of February. However, this finishing date might be extended as the project has experienced a number of delays.

When asked about the winged seahorse brooch from the Lydian Hoard, which is expected to be brought back to Turkey, Günay said: “Negotiations are still continuing, but we have agreed on the basic conditions. There is a legal process and we are trying to complete this legal process.”

Noting that everyone was waiting for good news, Günay added: “First we will exhibit the brooch temporarily in a museum. Currently, we think that museum will be Ankara’s Ethnography Museum. Later on, after Uşak Museum finishes work on the brooch, it will pass to that museum.”

The treasures from ancient Troy are currently displayed at the capital’s Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, but Günay also said they should return to their original location on Turkey’s Aewgean coast. “We are trying to create new and nice venues to exhibit those important artifacts,” he said.

Speaking about the wider campaign to bring back artifacts, Günay said Turkey had received up to 3,700 stolen artifacts from foreign countries over the last seven years.

“We are working with the Cultural Entities Directorship, Interpol, the Foreign Ministry and we are following events very closely. There are lots more artifacts that should also return to Turkey,” he said. “Previously, Turkey didn’t put enough importance on protecting its artifacts, so during those eras lots of artifacts were given away with ‘firmans’ and unofficial agreements,” Günay said.

“In the old days security was very low. However, there is currently a huge awareness in this sense,” he added. “In someone hears something, now they come to us. They are very sensitive in these issues.”

The culture minister also said that Bulgaria and Greece were following Turkey’s policy and pursuing their own stolen artifacts, stressing that these initiatives had significantly damaged the stolen artifact market. However, this market is deep and requires considerable effort to combat.

“There are many collectors and rich people who want to open museums. Those people support the system and the market of stolen artifacts,” Günay said.

“In 2013 we would like to bring back more stolen artifacts. There are a number of artifacts that we are dreaming of having in Turkey again. We are trying to present Turkey correctly as it is developing,” he said, adding that the new museum in Afyonkarahisar would help contribute to these efforts.

Reaction to criticism

Günay had previously declared that Europe was unable to continue exhibiting such a large number of artifacts. “Exhibition and organization facilities of most of the museums in Europe are not sufficient anymore. They do not have the financial opportunities to renew them. However, Turkey is exhibiting better now,” he said.

He also replied to questions regarding the controversial recent interview with Professor Hermann Parzinger, the President of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation (SPK), which was published in weekly German magazine Der Spiegel. In his interview, Parzinger stated that Turkey’s historical artifacts were not being well looked after, saying that they should be taken “under the protection” of Berlin State Museums.


The winged seahorse brooch
from the Lydian Hoard is
expected to be brought back
to Turkey very soon.
Negotiations on this issue
are still continuing, says

“Turkey has been investing in cultural heritage, transportation and health. By these accusations, sadly, between the lines we see the old colonialist soul that had never gone away and was hidden somewhere,” Günay said, also drawing attention to the fact that Turkey had become the sixteenth largest economy in the world.

“At the moment, Turkey is building museums by using the best exhibition and organization facilities in the world. I recommend that Parzinger come and visit the Aydın, Eti and Gaziantep museums.

The exhibition and organization facilities of most of the museums in Europe are not sufficient anymore, they do not have the financial opportunities to renew them. However, Turkey does exhibiting better,” he added. Günay said the article had to be revised, because even the journalist who held the interview insisted that Parzinger was wrong about the Turkish artifacts.