United States and Turkey Work Together to Protect Cultural Heritage

January 19, 2021

January 19, 2021. Ankara, Turkey: The United States and Turkey signed a new bilateral cultural property agreement that solidifies our shared commitment to combat looting and trafficking of cultural artifacts. This cooperation helps prevent terrorist financing from trafficking, combats transnational crime, and strengthens law enforcement cooperation. It will protect cultural heritage in Turkey, promote a clean U.S. market, build respect for the cultural heritage of minority communities, and increase academic exchanges, museum exhibitions, and research opportunities for the American public.

This agreement allows the United States to establish import restrictions on certain categories of Turkish cultural property, reducing the incentive to loot sites in Turkey. The agreement will give U.S. law enforcement the ability to return potential future trafficked cultural objects to Turkey, and it will foster interchange between U.S. and Turkish cultural institutions. The pillage of heritage sites and the sale of antiquities on the international market not only benefit transnational criminal organizations but also represent an irretrievable loss of historical information.

Turkish and American law enforcement are already working together successfully to stop the theft and trafficking of antiquities and cultural heritage artifacts, such as manuscripts and sculptures. This agreement will only enhance that strong cooperation. And through programs like the U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation, the United States has supported a decade-long conservation project that brought together local and regional neighbors to preserve the thousand year old Church of the Holy Redeemer at Ani in eastern Turkey.

This cultural property agreement was negotiated by the State Department under the U.S. law implementing the 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. The United States has cultural property agreements with countries around the world, as well as emergency import restrictions on cultural property from Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.

Follow @ECA_AS on Twitter for social media coverage of the ceremony.

Agreement in Turkish (PDF)

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