Finnish museum refuses request from Iraq to return artefacts
The items were given to the former Finnish president Urho Kekkonen in 1977
By Gareth Harris. Web only
Published online: 15 July 2013
Officials at the National Museum of Finland say that they have turned down a request to return six artefacts to the Iraqi embassy in Helsinki that were donated to the institution in the 1970s.
The objects, including a clay nail inscribed with cuneiform, were presented to the late Finnish president Urho Kekkonen in 1977 by a delegation from Iraq, which attended the opening of the “Land of Two Rivers” exhibition at Helsinki’s Amos Anderson gallery.
“The items were donated in the presence of the then head of the Iraqi antiquities administration,” says Jouni Kuurne, the keeper of collections and research at the National Museum of Finland. Kekkonen later gave the works to the museum. “The items were legally obtained and there is nothing suspect about their entry into Finland,” Kuurne says.
The Iraqi embassy declined to comment.
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