Çevik reiterated St. Nicholas’s remarks in which he said, “I was born here, raised here and I will be buried here.” The professor added that “we should respect the wish of St. Nicholas. The bones should be brought back to his grave in Demre.”
Çevik has also urged state authorities to take steps to contact their Italian counterparts. “The ministries should work to move the bones back to Turkey.” The scholar also emphasized the significance of St. Nicholas’s grave in terms of tourism and said that the number of tourists visiting the church in Demre will drastically increase when the bones are returned.
It's interesting that here, repatriation is not tied to sentimental concerns about colonialism or the spirits of the ancestors, but rather to the chance to generate cash from tourists. As repatriation becomes more mainstream, it also seems to be attracting preposterous proposals like this.
Recently the Koç Foundation - run by Turkey's richest industrialist family - has taken over some aspects of site management at the church. Judging by this sign, the former funders - the World Monuments Fund and the Samuel H. Kress foundation - have suffered a damnatio memoriae. I'm dying to know the back story on this one.