Turkey to Publish Armenian Translation of Van Guidebook

ISTANBUL (Hurriyet)–The recent increase in the number of visitors from Armenia and its Diaspora to the historic Armenian city of Van now in Eastern Turkey, has prompted the publishing of an Armenian-language tourism guide to the region, where the renovation and reopening as a museum of the Holy Cross church on Akhtamar Island has drawn much attention.

According to the Turkish Daily Hurriyet, the renovation of the church has drawn crowds of tourists, despite the controversy surrounding it when news broke that the church would reopen as a museum without the building’s cross.

According to Husamettin Ozturk, the culture and art administrator for the Van municipality, the guidebook was printed in Armenian, Kurdish, Arabic and Persian.

“There is a lot of that heritage in this city in the form of historical relics, which encouraged us to prepare this tourist handbook,” Ozturk said.

The translations were done by the employees of the weekly newspaper Agos, which is printed both in Turkish and Armenian. The guidebook, Ozturk said, has exactly the same content as the Turkish original.

The guidebook is being met with skepticism, from Armenians whose historic homeland has been under Turkish occupation since the Armenian Genocide of 1915.

“The content of the book, rather than the language in which it was printed, is what matters,” said Gagik Gyurjian, the former deputy head of the Armenian culture ministry. “If the handbook still ignores traces of Armenian civilization and its cultural wealth in line with Turkey’s official ideology, it does not matter at all in what language it was published in. Respect for history comes first.”

The Turkish cultural ministry has approved the opening of the historical church for religious services once a year, with the first service will be held September 19. The governor’s office and the municipality are working together on the preparations for the event.

“There already is a noticeable rise in the number of tourists in the city, and many of them are Armenian,” Ozturk said, adding that officials had attended the International Tourism Fair in Yerevan from May 13 to 16 and held meetings with nongovernmental organizations and artists in the country.

The municipal official also said Armenian artists and institutions had been invited to the Lake Van Culture, Arts and Nature Festival, which will be held for first time between June 30 and July 4. “Our fair attracted interest in Yerevan,” he said. “The participation of Armenia in the festival will contribute greatly to Van’s tourism.”

Ozturk said advertising and promotion of Van was not limited to Armenia, adding that Turkey aimed to make the eastern city a world-renowned spot. “After the renovation of the Akhtamar church, we had many visitors from Armenia. But we have bigger goals,” he said. “Van could be a new center of dialogue between civilizations and religions.”

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3 Comments

  1. manooshag said:

    Hye, ANYTHING any Turks ‘initiate’ list under the heading of “JUST ANOTHER PLOY”…
    95 years (nearly 100 years) . Obviously, too little, too late – now the Turks’ are desparate…
    Turks’ Ottoman thinking is still ‘showing’ – 1890s-2010- unforgettable, ever!
    Manooshag

  2. manooshag said:

    Hye, a P.S.
    I recall when turks had their exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Arts in New York city – all exhibited works of art where as if they all belonged to the Turks… so displayed signs said. Even the Museum were not aware of the dishonest presented to the Museum – typical Turks.
    All these years where we have had to tolerate the vile actions of the Turks, in pursuit of still, eliminating before the world, that the Armenians ever existed… with this Ottoman mentality/all their subsequent leaderships mentality since have been obsessed with ‘elimination’ of the Armenian existence on the planet earth! Armenians, an ancient, intelligent, advanced society which had (and even now in fledgling Armenia) has the capablility of offering much in the sciences to offer and to share with all the nations – all these years what has a Turkey brought to humanity – worthy of world recognitions – except Genocides (not wars) Genocides are easier – just eliminate non-Turks… for Turkey is only for the Turks (but Turks are spread all over Europe – maybe that’s why EU cannot include a Turkey.
    Turks find an excuse i.e., ‘terrorists’ and Bingo,Turks are into another Genocide… Turks, today the Kurds -obviously – before the whole world… Genocide again! Why, again!!
    Turks will not admit any Genocides – heaven forbid – not the enlightened Turks. Turks shall be brought to
    face their guilt of ALL the Genocides they have committed, into today, for then, and ONLY then, shall the
    despots know that the civilizied nations of the world will not tolerate Genocides – ONLY then, the Turks shall, perhaps/eventually, join the civilized nations of the world one day – and the CYCLE OF GENOCIDES SHALL END – FOREVER (whether initiated by a foe or an “ally” – the CYCLE OF GENOCIDES SHALL HAVE ENDED!
    Manooshag

  3. Vahakn Keshishian said:

    I think we need less skepticism and more optimism in this case.

    If the Van mayor is encouraging us to visit Van, then we should go, we should be friends with those in Turkey – be them Kurds, Turks, Arabs, or Armenians – who are giving a hand to us, we shouldn’t let that hand alone in the air.. Those are enemies of the state as we are, those are considered aliens, as we are, then, there is something in common between us.

    The aim of this campaign may be tourism, or propaganda.. it does not matter.. what matters is that unlike 30 years ago, Armenians are welcome in Turkey now.. Maybe we should try to understand how today’s Turkey functions, instead of making skeptic speculations without even seeing the guidebook… “If the handbook still ignores traces of Armenian civilization and its cultural wealth in line with Turkey’s official ideology, it does not matter at all in what language it was published in. Respect for history comes first.”

    I have an Armenian map of Diarbekir, published by the municipality itself, and translated by the same “Agos staff”.. It tells everything about the city history, mentions everything about the Armenians…

    BUT.. if you want to read that “The Armenians were living in Dikranagert, then one day, Turkish horsemen came, killed everyone, and renamed the city “Diyarbekir” “, then you will live all your life disappointed.. because that also is not true history.. if “history comes first”.

    Van is hosting first ever Armanian Mass in 100 years in Eastern Anatolia, the cross will be placed on Holly Cross church in the same day, the Van inhabitants are opening their houses for the Armenian visitors, the municipality is publishing guidebooks in Armenian.. and we are still like: “ANYTHING any Turks ‘initiate’ list under the heading of “JUST ANOTHER PLOY”” this can be best explained as “paranoia”.. Excuse me Manooshag jan.

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