Recounciliation monument began to be demolished
26 April 2011Peace statue in Kars being demolished
It bares a symbolic meaning the fact that the monument to Humanity erected in Kars and dedicated to peace and reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia has begun to be dismantled by workers on 25 April, one day after the Armenians remember the 1915 genocide.
Television footage on Monday showed a crane bringing down one of the two heads of the 35-meter (115-foot) stone sculpture which features a divided human figure, near the two nations' border. The monument has been designed by sculptor Mehmet Aksoy who has repeatedly condemned the proposed demolition. “Erdogan will become the first prime minister, who will destroy a monument to peace”, Aksoy said.
During a visit to the area, earlier this year, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said the monument was "ugly". Indeed he called a "freak" and said it overshadowed an Islamic shrine in the area. The PM criticism prompted local officials to start demolition procedures. But the court in the city of Erzurum issued a temporary order blocking the demolition, which had been approved by the town of Kars. The court order soon proved not to be enough and workers begun dismantling the sculpture on Monday.
The demolition of the Monument to Humanity has been disapprovingly remarked by the European Union (EU). The co-president of the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee, Hélène Flautre called it a disturbing reality. “The demolition of the unfinished monument, in fact, is a censorship against art. That monument used to be a project towards Armenian-Turkish relations, while having it demolished, the message of the statue becomes ineffective,” Turkish “Hurriyet” quotes Hélène Flautre as saying.
The sculpture was commissioned in 2006 to promote friendship between Armenians and Turks, who have a history of conflict. The former mayor of Kars, Naif Alibeyoglu, under whose administration the statue was erected, described Erdogan’s statements as “monstrous” in an interview with NTV television in which he justified the building of the statue.
“We sought to erect a monument to humanity. We have attempted to send a message of humanity to this militant world, having lost human values,” said Alibeyoglu, who has been a supporter of the unconditional normalization of relations between Armenia and Turkey. “We built this monument as counterbalance to genocide monuments in Armenia and Igdir, as monuments to genocide fueled vendetta between the two nations.”
Critics of the prime minister said his remarks and decision to demolish the statue were politically motivated.
Armenia and Turkey signed accords in 2009 on improving relations. But ties remain strained over the mass deaths of Armenians under Turkish rule between 1915 and 1923. Armenia says 1.5 million of them perished in deportations and killings by the Ottoman Empire that amounted to genocide.
Turkey rejects the genocide claims saying the death toll is greatly exaggerated and that both Turks and Armenians died in the civil unrest that accompanied the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.
ANF / KARS
ANF NEWS AGENCY