No Cross for Holy Cross

YEREVAN (ArmRadio)—Turkish authorities on Friday announced that they will not be installing a cross on the dome of the recently renovated Holy Cross church on the island of Akhtamar.

Located in the Southeastern province of Van, the Holy Cross Church was reopened and converted into a museum by local authorities following renovations. The move caused an outcry among Armenians in Turkey and abroad, who condemned the government’s defilement of the holy site. After much local and international pressure, the Turkish government ostensibly agreed to install a cross on the church in time for its first liturgy and allow limited services to be held.

But the government is now backing down on its promise, according to the editor of the Istanbul-based Agos Daily, Sarkis Seropyan. “The cross had to be installed a few days before the liturgy. Everything was ready and the cross was already brought to Van. However they say they are not going to put the cross because of technical reasons,” Seropyan told ArmRadio.

According to Archbishop Aram Ateshyan, the Deputy Patriarch of Constantinople, the governor of Van had said that installing the cross, weighing at 200 kg, would require a special tower that would not be available until after the liturgy. Ateshyan said the governor said the cross would be “shown to everybody on September 19 and fixed on the dome after the liturgy.”

Seropyan said the Armenian community of Turkey will still attend the church service, despite the government’s roundabout over the cross. “For me the most important thing is that the church of Akhtamar was reconstructed,” Seropyan said. “The Armenian community is going to participate in the liturgy in any case to show that it does not refuse to use its own holy places.”

According Seropyan, a delegation of clergy from the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin will arrive in Van a day before the liturgy to bless and decorate the church.  

Earlier this week, the Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia, Aram I, said he would not send a delegation to attend the September 19 church service, arguing that the restoration of the church and its transformation into a museum are “an attempt to convince the European Union and UNESCO that Turkey safeguards the cultural heritage of its occupied lands.” He further condemned the act as “an attempt to obscure its consistent policy of denying the Armenian Genocide and the rights of its survivors.”


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  1. Gary said:

    And Turkey complains about the Swiss wanting to prohibit minarets! What hypocrites. Mongol Turks

  2. Krikor said:

    With or without cross it is used for Turkish propaganda anyway. No Armenian should go there

  3. Hratch said:

    Why do they need to do the holy liturgy there? After all it is a museum and not a house of worship. Aram I has every right in boycotting this cheap and obvious propaganda stunt by Turkey.

  4. Chris said:

    Pffft. Hypocrites.

    “Wah wah minarets are banned in Switzerland,” but no cross for Akhtamar. Fantastic.

  5. Satenik said:

    Turkey with its patheic “democracy”. The irony is that this sick bird wants to become a member of the EU! Turkey keep dreaming….it ain’t gonna happen!!!!!

  6. Armen said:

    What about the rest of the Armenian churches in Asia Minor, don’t they also need renovation…!

  7. ed said:

    This is first of all a propaganda show therefore Turkish authorities will decorate The Holy Cross church on the island of Akhtamar with Attatürks picture (in different size and look) and Turkish flags… Turks know how to disgrace …

  8. manooshag said:

    Hye, and the Turk shall have atop their museum an Armenian Cross all the other 364 days of the year?
    Turks are to place the cross atop their museum for one day – after September 19th? A Turkey is a Turkey is a Turkey… desperately placing/removing, acting/inaction, whatever – for the next PLOY.
    Too, museum interior shall bear the data of their Turkish heroes – who planned the elimination of the
    Armenians to steal all that was of the Armenian’s via the Turkish Genocide of the Armenian nation from the 1890s until today – 2010! Too, as was in the past, some relics may be of our own Armenian history…
    This is another PLOY of the Turks… another event to further emasculate and further shame the Armenians by dictating a Turkey’s decision of when, what and where they will allow/permit Armenians to
    again, bow down lowly, as Christians – to their muslim dictates. These Turkish leaderships, in the mode of the Ottomans, even use these controls/PLOYS against their own Turkish citizenry – their own people.