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Turkey looks to regain lost treasures

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Another piece of cultural heritage is back on Turkish soil

After 13 years in the US, the Orpheus mosaic joins some 3700 items returned to Turkey over the past five years.

Officials have scoured the world for objects that they say have been looted throughout the course of history.

SOUNDBITE 1 - Ertuğrul Günay, Turkish Minister of Culture and Tourism (Turkish, 5 sec)

"We are asking for works that have been stolen from Turkey, I think we have this right, I think it's natural to do this."

Some museum's such as the one in Dallas, Texas have been happy to help. Officals were happy to return the mosaic, bought in 1999 at auction, after they found out the piece had been stolen.

Others, however, appear to be less willing.

Turkey has asked for the return of the statue of the Old Fisherman from Aphrodisias from Berlin's Pergamon Museum but the German authorites have so far refused to budge.

SOUNDBITE 2 - Hermann Parzinger, President of the Foundation of Prussian Cultural Heritage (man, in German) 16 sec

"The piece arrived here in 1904 as part of an old collection of antiquities. It was bought from an art market, it was absolutely legal and we can prove it. We see no reason at all which would justify returning it."

Elsehwere, the Iznik ceramics are unlikely to be returned too. They are currently housed in the brand new Islamic art wing of the Louvre. The Paris museum like its Berlin counterpart insists that the pieces were acquired legally much to Ankara's annoyance.

For Turkey this isn't just about the return of art - there is an economic motivation to it all too. 30 museums are in various stage of construction as the country looks to sell itself as a destination for cultural tourists.

SOUNDBITE 3 - Ertuğrul Günay, Turkish Minister of Culture and Tourism (man, in Turkish, 10 sec)

"We have invested a lot and that's why we want pieces which left Turkey illegally be returned so that they can be exhibited in our museums."

The list of pieces for repatriation is long with many prestigous institutions including the Met in New York and the British museum in London, in the firing line.

SHOTLIST:

(SOURCE: AFPTV)

ISTANBUL, TURKEY, DECEMBER, 2012

- VAR Ertuğrul Günay with Orpheus mosaic

SOUNDBITE 1

- VAR Orpheus Mosaic

BERLIN, NOVEMBER, 2012

- VAR Old Fisherman from Aphrodisias from Berlin's Pergamon

SOUNDBITE 2

PARIS, 2012

- VAR Iznik ceramics in the Louvre ( Source : Le Louvre, NO RESALE)

- Exterior Le Louvre

- Ext. Institute of Islamic Art ( Source : Le Louvre, NO RESALE)

ISTANBUL, DECEMBER 2012

- VAR Turkish minister of culture

- VAR Museum of archaeology Istanbul

SOUNDBITE 3

- VAR museum of archaeology Istanbul