“In the last 10 years, 2,712 artifacts belonging to Turkish lands that were taken to abroad for various reasons at various points in times were returned to their place of origin, our country,” said Yahya Coşkun, the deputy general director of Cultural Heritage and Museums of the Culture and Tourism Ministry.
Noting that the year 2021 started well in terms of bringing historical artifacts to Turkey, Coşkun said that they think that 70 return requests followed would be concluded very soon.
“We have 70 [return] requests monitored as of this year; this number was 65 last year,” he said, adding that each of these requests was not just about one asset, but sometimes dozens or even hundreds of works can be included in a file.
He also said that an artifacts group of 413 pieces was brought to Turkey from Hungary in March.
Evaluating a cultural asset return agreement signed with the United States recently, Coşkun underlined that many Turkish cultural assets in the U.S. would be brought to the country thanks to the agreement entered into force as of March 24.
He noted that a historical statue of Kybele, the pre-historic goddess of fertility, which was smuggled from the Central Anatolian province of Afyonkarahisar to Israel in the 1960s and sold there, was brought back to Turkey with the support of the U.S. internal security units.
The 1,700-year-old statue, believed to be dating back to the third century A.D., was finally returned on Dec. 13, 2020, with the hard work of Turkish authorities after they proved its origins and halted the audition process in New York.
The ministry official also noted that a similar asset return agreement with Switzerland would be signed very soon.