Yesterday we pondered an idea that the Turkish government would be seeking the return of the Altar of Pergamon from Berlin ... From the New Anatolian comes an excerpt from a related interview with Atilla Koc, the Turkish Minister of Tourism:

TNA: Hundreds of Turkish historical artifacts, either stolen by foreigners or granted to them by Ottoman sultans, are kept in various museums all over the world. For example there's the breathtaking Great Altar of Pergamon in Berlin and many artifacts in the British Museum. Is there any chance of getting them back? How do you feel about this as a Turk and, as a state minister, what's your policy?

KOC: As a Turk I'm certainly deeply sorry but such kinds of international issues need compromises. Through such a compromise, an international agreement has been reached, Turkey has also signed it, but it doesn't work retroactively. So it's a shame that there's no chance of getting the altar back from Germany; we have no legal right to do so. But now we have a new project to make replicas of these historical artifacts and place them in their original locations and in front of them we'll put signs saying something like, "The original is now in the Berlin Museum." We'll also ask our German colleagues to place similar signs saying something like, "This altar was brought here from Bergama, Turkey." Even though it breaks my heart, I think that the important thing from now on is not to lose them; if these artifacts hadn't been stolen from Turkey, maybe we wouldn't have been able to preserve them as they have been.

... there's a bit more, but that's enough to get the gist.

On a semi-related (reallllllllly semi) note, phDiva's Dorothy King passes along a note (and Bread and Circuses mentions this as well) about a campaign by a Greek Orthodox group to return Hagia Sophia to its former function as a church and -- get this -- to make such a change a necessary precursor to Turkey's admission to the EU!