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Turkey – Armenia: monument is torn down together with friendship?

Monument of friendship between Armenia and Turkey is torn down in Turkey. 35-metres statue, 30 metres in height, represents itself two figures striving each other. The monument had not finished – hand of one of the figures was not installed and was laying near figure on gravel…The head of 19 tons weight of one of two figures of composition had been separated statue yet
Monument was installed in town Kars in 40 kilometres away from border with Armenia. Initiator of its construction was former mayor of Kars who considered that it is necessary to make contacts with Armenia and believed sincerely that it would bring economic dividends for town without fail.

Decision to tear down monument constructed in 2008 was made during municipality sitting in Kars. 4 people out of 23 were not agreed. Practically overwelming majority of votes for monument deconstruction was provided by votes of governing party members as reported mass media of Turkey.

Formal ground to tear down monument was found quickly despite of reasonable disputes about truly to say his unusual look. It was appealed officially from highest tribunes that monument outshined Islamic sacred things situated near. The Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated: “They constructed abnormality near grave of Muslim scientist Hasan Harakari. It is impossible to think that such can stand together with fundamental works of art”.
The result is following: the statue will be deinstalled not in a whole but by separation into parts according to words of acting mayor of Kars Nevzap Bozkuz.

But history of construction and deconstruction of monument in Kars has nothing common really with disputes about creative heritage of Zurab Tsereteli as it can be seen from first sight. The matter is not in aesthetic criteria at all – policy drives everything really.

Turkey and Armenia have no diplomatic relations since 1993. There are problems in bilateral relations on which neighbour countries can’t find common language in any way. The most important problems are – refusal of Turkey to recognize genocide of Armenians in 1915 by Turkey in dispute about Nagorny Karabakh which is called Artsakh in Armenia. Turkey and Armenia made a row of steps towards each other quite suddenly. It made idea to construct monument of friendship between Armenia and Turkey in Kars. But relations between countries spoiled so quickly that monument construction had not been even finished …

Political situation in Turkey couldn’t have any influence to situation. The next elections are approaching and “strong courses” are quite claimed now. Local analysts note that Recep Tayyip Erdogan decision about monument deconstruction looks like good pre-election course as well.
In their own turn experts in international relations in Yerevan are sure in one: Turkey had proved in next time that it was not ready to normalize relations with Armenia because “even monument of friendship between Armenia and Turkey is inadmissible for them”.

The monument in Kars was nicknamed as monument to unrealized hopes yet. And famous Armenian sculptor Levon Tokmajyan marked and very faithfully noted that monument deconstruction didn’t wonder anybody: “Of course, monument had not any special aesthetic merits but if it would be even work by Micelangelo it would be deconstructed in any way…”
The Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan became initiator of monument deconstruction. He is most popular politician in Turkey today. His words are considered in opinion because it is official position of authorities of Turkey factually. Erdogan said too much about monument in Kars:

“I named monument in Kars as abnormal construction and didn’t refuse from my words…
I don’t want my words to be paraphrased but I don’t consider being of that monument in Kars expedient…
I didn’t see any art or any architectural composition in that monument. I warned former head of Kars municipality that it was not necessary to build it when construction began, unfortunately, he didn’t obey me. I consider namely him guilty in construction of that monument”.
The Prime Minister of Turkey appealed to leaders of local administration to tear down monument before his next visit to Kars, and to set up a park at this place.

Local clerks all supported the Prime Minister. This is one of public statements of Kars municipality head: “Truly to say, one is ashamed that symbol of our town is such abnormal monument. We applied yet to state agency on monument protection to give us permit for deconstruction of it”.

Acting Minister of Culture of Turkey Erturgul Gyunay expressed himself in more diplomatic way, but quite clearly: “Maybe it didn’t excite delight because of it, but in any case The Prime Minister Erdogan was right when he spoke about abnormality of locality where monument stood. Maybe that monument would have quite another appearance after setting up a park here?”
Minister of Foreign Relations Ahmet Davydoglu attached to chor of approving ones: Kars inherited its architectural tradition from Osmans and Seljukes. Monument doesn’t reflect that architecture. It doesn’t correspond to this architectural aesthetics. Works must be arranged in correspondence with architectural heritage of region”.

Thus all dots above “I” were put, but… Not all Turkey stands for deconstruction of monument. There are people who do not agree with that decision categorically. Former mayor of Kars and member of one of opposite parties Naif Alibeyoglu, the initiator of monument deconstruction, explained that monument might become “appeal both to Armenia and to Europe and to all other world, signal that Caucasus able to become a little island of peace. It’s a pity that humanity is treated under foot now”.

One more oppositionist – former Minister of Culture Ercan Karakas appealed that monument is work of high art. And it is very important that it is “antidote for appearance of monuments about genocide of Armenians”. .This is such unusual argument – however quite understandable, if one remember all history of relations between Armenia and Turkey and its influence on modern policy of these countries.
One more example. Rights protector Ragip Zarakolu reacted in following way to this situation:
“I knew about decision to tear down monument symbolizing friendship between Armenia and Turkey, I condemned that decision. Forward public of Turkey expressed support to sculptor yet in his decision to uphold his honour in court”.

Opponents of monument deconstruction do not speak only – they act: representatives of intellectuals carried out meeting near monument in Kars. Participants of this action demanded from authorities to stop monument deconstruction immediately. More than two thousand people took part in meeting.

Not only world mass media and public discuss situation around monument. One must not forget about such sphere as international relations. One couldn’t not to react to situation around monument in Azerbaijan which appealed about special relations with Turkey. Governing party “Eni Azerbaijan” stated its official position. Deputy of parliament Mubariz Gurbanly stated that party couldn’t welcome decision of Prime Minister Erdogan about deconstruction of monument. Gurbanly noted most important according to his opinion moments:
“One must repulse occupants and make no concessions”.

“Decision by Recep Tayyip Erdogan about deconstruction of monument of friendship between Turkey and Armenia in Kars is suitably for approval. Demounting of that monument is quite logic. This decision reflects existing reality and is fully legal.”

“Presence of similar monument means nothing else than moral justification of occupational policy of the Armenians”.
“Armenia makes territorial claims to Turkey, tries to put strike to international image of Turkey conducting propaganda about fabricated genocide of Armenians. There is no necessity to construct monument for non-existing friendship in such case”.
There is nothing new here in general, of course, - point of view of Bacu is known long time, but history with construction and deconstruction of monument in Kars is the only occasion to indicate own position again.

It was said and written too much about position of countries and politicians involved in this history. But one fell in policy forgot man who made monument being subject of many disputes. The speech is about Turkish sculptor Mehmet Axoy. He is quite famous master yet. He studied in Germany. His work “Monument to deserter” is installed there. That monument represents itself crushed marble boulder from which human figure seemed to be extracted but made, however, step of hand and shadow of head on stone. That is the sculpture by Mehmet Axoy is made in not spirit of realism at all and in this case. This is why some his projects were not adopted in Turkey, but monuments were deconstructed or were subject to graffity.

Sculptor didn’t keep silence. This is his comment to last events:
“I represented state of human divided into two parts. This human would become “himself” again when these two parts would join. I wanted to express that. It is not possible to name it “abnormality”. It is shamefully and unfairly. Human must understand at first what monument expresses… All who take care about art, friendship and peace must not remain indifferent to deconstruction of this monument”.

Mehmet Axoy refused from idea to make so that water fell down along monument as symbol of tears. Nationalists leading by their own logic, begin to reason that it can be told as tears of Armenians being happy for territories being taken back. As it is said, no comments.
The author of monument is going to fight. He considers that fact itself of monument deconstruction may “lead to such anger and indignation that they even don’t imagine. They will convert in Taliban”.

Meanwhile one of famous Turkish businessmen living in Germany expressed initiative to carry deconstructed monument from Kars and to install it in Berlin. He is going to erect monument on private territory, but in future to appeal to city authorities with request about its installation in public place. But, it seems, policy will be stronger than disputable art and in this case too… As it was in case with deconstruction of Buddha statues in Bamian exploded by Talibs – the fact that unique statues were considered as cultural heritage of mankind didn’t help in those case.
 

Viewed : 2296   Commented: 3

Author: Карновский Юрий Зиновьевич

Publication date : 04 July 2011 12:06

Source: The world and we

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