Accord between US and Turkey to counter illicit trade in artefacts divides historians and preservationists

At the beginning of 2021, an agreement between Turkey and the United States to combat the illicit trade in antiquities and other cultural property has divided the scientific community. Historians and preservationists question the effectiveness of this agreement.

The objective stated through this memorandum of understanding is to fight and reduce the incentive to looting by tightening import conditions. The United States is stepping up import restrictions to combat this curse. For its part, Turkey, which is a party to the 1970 UNESCO Convention, would take a positive step if the agreement indicates respect for international commitments in the field of cultural heritage.

This agreement would make it possible to stem or at least disrupt the traffic channels and the actors involved.

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[Pictures to illustrate : Ruins of the medieval Armenian cathedral at the ancient site of Ani in eastern Turkey Dallet-Alba/Alamy]