Twelve antiquities smuggled out of Turkiye are coming back home, Turkiye's Consul General in New York announced Wednesday, Anadolu News Agency reports.
"The momentum of the cooperation is not only encouraging deeper cooperation between Turkiye and the US, but is also inspiring for the global community combating cultural property smuggling," Reyhan Ozgur said at a repatriation ceremony. "It sends a clear and strong message to all smugglers, dealers and collectors that illegal purchase, possession and sale of cultural artefacts will have consequences."
Ozgur said the smuggling of antiquities poses a "tremendous threat to our common cultural heritage".
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"That is why as the Republic of Turkiye, within this group of artefacts, there are pieces from every different region of our country such as Burdur, Konya, Sanliurfa, Canakkale, Manisa, Antalya and Eastern Anatolia," he said.
Underlining Turkiye's efforts to fight cultural property smuggling and protect the cultural heritage of Anatolian lands, which hosted many civilisations, Ozgur said 1,203 cultural properties were returned to Turkiye between 2002 and 2023.
Noting a Memorandum of Understanding with the US, Ozgur said Turkiye's Culture and Tourism Ministry played a role in bringing the facts together.
New York County Assistant District Attorneys, Matthew Bogdanos and Lisa DelPizzo, also expressed happiness about the repatriation, adding they will continue to work closely with Turkiye.
New York Cultural Attaché officials said the twelve artefacts will be sent to Turkiye via a Turkish Airlines cargo flight later Wednesday.
Among the historical artefacts was a Bronze Statue of Septimus Severus from Burdur's Boubon Ancient City, which has special importance, according to Turkish diplomatic sources.
READ: Ottoman-era historical artefacts seized in northern Turkiye