Turkey ignores Armenian calls for joint reconstruction of historical


Feb 9 2005

YEREVAN, FEBRUARY 9, ARMENPRESS: A deputy Armenian culture minister
told Armenpress today that the neighboring Turkey has not responded to
Armenian initiatives to make the medieval Armenian city of Ani, now in
eastern Turkey close to its border with Armenia, “a cultural corridor.”

Ani, the ancient, walled capital of the kings from Bagradit dynasty
who ruled Armenia from the 9-th to the 11-th centuries AD, was in its
heyday a millennium ago and a rival to Constantinople, Baghdad and
Cairo. Despite earthquakes and Mongol raids, much of Ani’s immense,
fortified walls, as well as the city’s citadel, caravansary, cathedral
and six churches still stand well preserved, their stone facades a
testament to a well-developed level of craftsmanship. Today Ani is a
ghost town, deserted except for the presence of Turkish border guards
and the occasional tourists.

The deputy minister, Gagik Gurjian, said the issue was first raised
in 2001 at different international organizations, including also
the UNESCO. “Making Ani a cultural center remains in the focus of
Armenia’s foreign policy, as Armenia stands firmly for improvement
of relations with Turkey and a cultural dialogue is one of ways to
do it,” Gurjian said adding that so far no progress was made except
a verbal arrangement.

He said a French archeologist, Pierre Mahier, who headed an
expedition for archeological dig in Ani asked the Armenian culture
ministry to provide it with research materials collected during a 1905
archeological expedition in Ani, led by a prominent archeologist Toros
Toromanian, which are kept in Armenia and which are very important
in conducting any research in Ani, “but we refused explaining that
the participation of Armenian archeologists would be more effective.”

He said the Armenian culture ministry sent to Turkish counterparts
a report about joint Armenian-American excavations in Akhtamar and
Van, both in Turkey and a daft project for continuing researches,
which also remained unanswered.

Gurjian said they have learned that Turkey has asked the European
Parliament to fund reconstruction of several monuments in Eastern
Anatolia, which include also old Armenian cities of Van and Igdir. He
said if the European Parliament approves this project the Armenian
ministry will try to get some Armenian monuments in these regions
involved in the project.

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