YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Armenia criticized Turkey’s government on Friday for planning to tear down a giant monument meant to promote reconciliation between the two estranged nations, saying that could further complicate the normalization of bilateral ties.
The 30-meter (100-foot) unfinished concrete statue, located in the northeastern Turkish city of Kars, just 50 kilometers from the Armenian border, depicts two figures emerging from one human shape and symbolizing the pain of division.
Visiting Kars on Sunday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan described the monument as a “monstrosity” that overshadows a nearby Islamic shrine. He ordered the Kars mayor, a member of his ruling Justice and Development Party, to replace it with a park. The move prompted strong criticism from some opponents of his government.
Commenting on Erdogan’s statements, Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said, “Instead of putting new building blocks on the foundation for normalizing bilateral relations, this kind of statements and actions could only cause damage.”
“The international community has not forgotten the most recent statements of this kind, and a new one is being added to them. One can only express regrets,” he told journalists.
Nalbandian also repeated the official Armenian line that the onus is on Turkey to kick-start a rapprochement between the two neighboring states that brought them close to establishing diplomatic relations and opening their border a year ago. He said Ankara has “finally reverted to the language of preconditions.”
Nalbandian referred to the Erdogan government’s refusal ratify the Turkish-Armenian normalization protocols signed in October 2009 before a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.