Erdogan Calls Kars Peace Monument an ‘Abomination,’ Announces Its Demolition


The people’s friendship monument in Kars

ISTANBUL (Hurriyet) — Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday called a monument in Kars dedicated to peace “an abomination” and announced it would not stay up much longer.

During his visit to the northeastern province of Kars over the weekend, Erdogan discussed the city’s “Insanlik Aniti,” or Monument of Humanity, in a speech to locals.

He said, “They have placed an abomination next to the Mausoleum of Hasan Harakani [a religious figure from the 10th century]; they erected a strange thing.”

Erdogan called the monument’s existence next to the historic monuments in the area “unthinkable” and said he hopes to not to see it there next time he visits Kars. “Our mayor will do his duty with haste,” Erdogan assured the residents of Kars. According to the prime minister, the area will be turned into “a beautiful park” by the municipality.

The large monument is the handiwork of renowned Turkish sculptor Mehmet Aksoy. The 35-meter, 350-ton monument was erected in 2009, during the rule of Kars’ former mayor, Naif Alibeyoglu, from the main opposition Republican People’s Party or CHP.

Current mayor, Nevzat Bozkus, from the leading Justice and Development Party, or AKP, stated the monument is on Treasury land, which is also a protected area, and has no zoning permit. Alibeyoglu, speaking to news television station NTV via phone, said the public will evaluate the “abomination” comment. Bozkus said the monument was erected as an answer to a “Genocide monument” in Armenia and in the name of peace.

Sculptor Mehmet Aksoy had said earlier in January that the mayor wanted a monument of peace, as opposed to other monuments with messages of war and hatred.

“War is a crime against humanity and people cannot progress forward with wars,” Aksoy said. “These two figures in the sculpture are actually a single human torn in half. They are in a position of confrontation against each other, made into enemies. The two figures become a single person again with the outreached hand.”