Turkish Court Blocks Demolition of Armenia ‘Friendship’ Statue


KARS (PanArmrenian.Net) — A Turkish court has temporarily blocked controversial government plans to demolish a giant monument meant to promote reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia, it was reported last week.

The 30-meter unfinished concrete statue, just 50 kilometers from the Armenian border, depicts two figures emerging from one human shape and symbolizing the pain of division.

Visiting Kars in January, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan described the monument as a “monstrosity” that overshadows a nearby Islamic shrine. He ordered the Kars mayor to replace it with a park. The move, which was approved by the municipal council last month, prompted criticism from some opponents of Erdogan’s government.

In a report cited by Agence France Presse, the Anatolia news agency said the court in the nearby city of Erzerum issued a temporary order Monday blocking the demolition. It quoted a lawyer for sculptor Mehmet Aksoy as saying that the order will stop “irreparable damage” being done to his work while the courts decide on its ultimate fate.

Aksoy has condemned the planned demolition, saying that it would recall the 2001 destruction by the Taliban of ancient Buddhist statues in Afghanistan’s Bamiyan valley.

Armenian Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian said the demolition could complicate the normalization of relations between the two nations.