Regarding the operation called "Anatolia", in which 4 thousand 122 historical artifacts were seized, Minister of Culture and Tourism Mehmet Nuri Ersoy said, "In addition to the fact that many artifacts belonging to our country were caught without being smuggled abroad, many artifacts that were taken out of our borders and sold in auction houses were also detected. We will carry out the necessary initiatives to return them to our country in coordination with our relevant institutions.” said.
Minister Ersoy made evaluations at the ceremony held at the Troy Museum for the purpose of delivering the icons stolen from the historical churches in Gökçeada in 2007 to the Fener Greek Patriarch Bartholomew.
Stating that they have achieved another success in protecting cultural assets and preventing smuggling, Minister Ersoy emphasized that the operation called "Anadolu", which has been meticulously carried out by the Department of Anti-Smuggling and Organized Crime of the Ministry of Interior for a long time, has started to yield its first results.
Explaining that this was the first historical artifact smuggling operation in the history of the Republic, aimed at “revenue from crime,” Minister Ersoy said, “It was carried out simultaneously in Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Turkey, and a total of 4 historical artifacts were seized. In addition to the fact that many works belonging to our country were caught without being smuggled abroad, many works that were taken out of our borders and sold in auction houses were also detected. We will carry out the necessary initiatives to return them to our country in coordination with our relevant institutions.” he said.
Pointing out that the operation showed the whole world how Turkey protected the cultural heritage on its lands with all its means and its determination to fight against crimes against them, Minister Ersoy said, “I would like to thank our Minister of Interior, the Department of Fight Against Smuggling and Organized Crime, who carried out the operation, and their expertise in this operation. I would like to express my gratitude to my colleagues who contributed. I state once again that we will never compromise our struggle and determination.” used the phrases.
Stating that a large-scale investigation was carried out regarding the thefts in the churches on the island, Minister Ersoy said that some cultural assets were seized in the operation carried out by the Eceabat District Gendarmerie Command in the same year.
Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy stated that thanks to special research methods, it was determined that these artifacts were stolen from religious buildings, including the Dereköy Panayiya Kimisis Church.
Stating that the fate of the case regarding the artifacts held as trustee in the Troy Museum was asked by the Çanakkale Culture and Tourism Directorate from the relevant court with the instruction of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Minister Ersoy stated that they are following the decision regarding the ownership of the artifacts.
Minister Ersoy reminded that they met with Fener Greek Patriarch Bartholomew at the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum in 2019 and said, “Our Ayet-el Kürsi embroidered panel, a rare example of 16th century Ottoman tile art, stolen from Istanbul Çarşamba Mehmet Ağa Mosque. They shared with us the happiness of being extradited from England to our country. We are experiencing the same happiness today as we present these special works to the Patriarch so that he can meet with the churches again. I also think that the best way to bring these artifacts back to the people of the region is to preserve them in the churches they belong to.” he said.
Pointing out that the cultural properties in Turkey are state property, Minister Ersoy stated that stealing, possessing them without permission, digging to find them, and even accidentally finding and not reporting them are considered crimes sanctioned with a prison sentence.
Mentioning that taking cultural assets abroad should be punished with imprisonment from 5 to 12 years, Minister Ersoy said:
“I must proudly say that; From the first legal regulations enacted during the Ottoman Empire to our current legislation, cultural assets have never been subjected to discriminations such as religion, language or race. In our country, cultural assets are carefully protected regardless of the period, function and production purposes they belong to, and each piece is meticulously preserved under the guarantee of our laws. I hope that everyone will benefit from this climate of tolerance of our civilization and understand that cultural assets are an element of peace, friendship, brotherhood and dialogue. I would like to thank all our guests who joined us here today, our Eceabat District Gendarmerie Command, Gökçeada Chief Public Prosecutor's Office, Gökçeada Criminal Court of First Instance for making us feel this happiness with the steps they took and the decisions they made, our host Troy Museum, who duly preserved the works, and my colleagues who worked hard in the field of preventing cultural property smuggling. ”
Bartholomew Will Conduct the Sunday Mass in Sumela
Bartholomew stressed that they owe the present, which is very important and beautiful to them, to the sensitivity and tolerance of the Minister of Culture and Tourism, Mehmet Nuri Ersoy.
Stating that they are extremely grateful to Minister Ersoy, Bartholomew continued his words as follows:
“Icons are considered sacred relics in our religion. Of course we don't worship wood or paints. We pray in front of the persons, saints, saints, especially Christ Jesus and the Virgin Mary on the icons, and our churches that keep the icons are our most important places of worship. We place great importance on the images and icons that we use for our prayers in these churches, and we grieve when they are taken or stolen from us in any way. It is a very important event that these 12 icons, which were stolen from our churches on the island, are returned to us thanks to the members of the police. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to our Minister and members of the police, on behalf of our Patriarchate, Gökçeada and Bozcaada Metropolitan Municipality, our community and myself.”
Patriarch Bartholomew stated that Minister Ersoy has proven that he always takes care of Turkey's cultural heritage.
Stating that Minister Ersoy's sensitivity and attitude towards cultural heritage is admirable, Bartholomew said:
“As a matter of fact, we know and appreciate the very valuable role they played in the restoration of the Sumela Monastery, which has a very historical and religious significance for us Christians lately. We are always happy and proud when we receive these news in the newspapers and in the media. Next Sunday we will celebrate the ascension of the Virgin Mary. With the permission of the relevant authorities, I will have the chance to perform the ritual again at the Sumela Monastery. I conducted the ceremony there 2010 times, starting from 2015 until 6. In 2010-2011, we conducted these rites with clergy from Russia and Ukraine. After that, the restoration work started, it was interrupted for 5-6 years. Last year, we repeated the rites with the permission given to us, and this year I will personally go and conduct this rite. As far as I know, according to the news I have received, there will be an important contribution from abroad. The number of tourists and believers will be large.”
Çanakkale Governor İlhami Aktaş, AK Party Group Deputy Chairman Bülent Turan, Deputy Minister of Culture and Tourism Ahmet Misbah Demircan, corporate directors, representatives of political parties and non-governmental organizations and other officials attended the ceremony, which ended with Minister Ersoy handing over the icons to Bartholomew. .