In a ceremony at the Sofia Museum of Archeology, Bulgarian officials handed Turkish authorities 63 smuggled artifacts that originated from Turkey. Turkey's Deputy Culture and Tourism Minister Özgül Özkan Yavuz received the artifacts which were seized by Bulgaria in 2016 and transferred them to the museum in Sofia.
The Culture and Tourism Ministry announced that artifacts were returned as part of a cooperation agreement for fight against smuggling of cultural assets. A majority of returned artifacts are ancient gold, silver and bronze coins.
Yavuz says that Bulgarian Culture Minister Boil Banov assured Turkey that other artifacts seized in Bulgaria would also be returned to the country as soon as possible.
"Both Banov and our minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy have a determined stance in the fight against the smuggling of cultural assets. We are grateful to Mr. Banov and experts at the Sofia museum for contacting Turkey for the return of artifacts and their preservation until their return," she said.
Turkey and Bulgaria signed an agreement in 2012 against smuggling artifacts and other artifacts seized in the Balkan country are expected to be returned to Turkey after the legal process concludes.
According to data by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, more than 4,300 historical artifacts were returned to Turkey between 2004 and 2018.
The countries that returned smuggled artifacts to Turkey are the U.S., Germany, Austria, the United Arab Emirates, Bulgaria, France, Croatia, the U.K., Switzerland and Serbia. While the U.S. and U.K. come in the first among the list of the countries that returned the most in the last five years, the repatriated artifacts include a coat of arms of the Ottoman Empire, a Turkish flag, a winged seahorse brooch, amphora, coins, the Sarcophagus of Hercules and the Golden Crown that dates back to the 4th century B.C.