(London Guardian) Turkey has been accused of cultural chauvinism and attempting to blackmail some of the world’s most important museums in the wake of its demands for the return of thousands of archaeological treasures.

According to cultural chiefs in Berlin, Paris and New York, Turkey has threatened to bar foreign archaeologists from excavation sites in the country by not renewing their digging permits if governments refuse to return artefacts that Ankara says were unlawfully removed from Turkish soil. It has also threatened to halt the lending of its treasures to foreign museums, they say.

The government in Ankara, emboldened by the country’s growing diplomatic and economic clout, has repeatedly said that the retrieval of the artefacts is part of a policy it intends to pursue for years, if necessary, calling it a “cultural war”. However, it denies withholding permits as a form of leverage.

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