Politics of Protection: Group urges review of ‘cultural genocide’ during Turkey’s EU Aspirations

(ArmeniaNow)–While the European Union considers Turkey’s application for membership–some Armenia’s are using the time of intense inspection to rally their cause against what they call "cultural genocide."

Earlier this month–a group of Armenian intelligentsia met in Yerevan to discuss ways to bring attention to the destruction of Armenian architecture on Turkish soil.

Armen Hakhnazaryan–who has founded an organization for studying Armenian architecture 35 years ago in Germany–says they have struggled for recognition of the Genocide by Germany–but the German Bundestag adopted the resolution condemning the events of 1915 only now that EU membership is being considered.

"We should use the moment," Hakhnazaryan said. "The facts we presented about the cultural genocide to the members of parliament and various parties played a big role." He added that though they were aware of the facts–"from the point of view of politics today–they are afraid of the 70 million population entering Europe."

"During the last several years–the term ‘cultural cannibalism’ is used?meaning a nation not only exterminates the other’s values but also expropriates," said head of Turkic Department of Oriental Studies Institute of the National Academy of Sciences Ruben Safrastyan.

He also presented the legal bases of the question that can be used by Armenia to raise the question of responsibility of Turkey before international instances.

The policy of Turkey may be condemned by the 1923 Lausanne Treaty–1972 European Union World Culture and Natural Heritage Agreement–and 1992 Agreement on Preservation of Architectural Heritage; the first of which committed Turkey to preservation of monumen’s of the Christian minority living on its territory.

A resolution on the Armenian genocide by the Council of Europe in 1987 can also be helpful to Armenia in this matter–according to which the European community deman’s Turkey to respect and preserve the historical monumen’s of the Armenian nation. The extermination of Armenian monumen’s in Turkey began with the Armenian genocide and continues up to now.

If in the 1920s–there were more than 900 Armenian churches in Turkey–by 1974–according to data publicized by UNESCO–more than the half of them had been destroyed; 212 ruined and 197 needed urgent reconstruction.

"I was heavily impressed with the Urfa Cathedral that was used in 1915 to burn 3,000 Armenia’s alive and that has turned into fire depot after the creation of the Turkish republic," informed Safrastyan.

Safrastyan and others also claim that monumen’s have been ruined by "excavations" in search of buried gold.

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