YEREVAN (combined sources)–An article published in the Turkish Hurriet newspaper on May 8 accused Armenia of deliberately destroying the ruins of Ani by means of explosions in the stone quarries near the Armenian-Turkish border. That article was part of the anti-Armenian hysteria raised in Turkey–Secretary General of the National Commission of Armenia for UNESCO Affairs to the Foreign Ministry of Armenia Varduhi Asaturian said. She further noted that blasting operations ceased a month ago.
A statement released by the Armenian foreign ministry–mentions a message that was sent by Turkey’s permanent representative to UNESCO on December 18 of last year. Turkey filed a complaint with UNESCO–accusing Armenia of deliberately destroying the ruins of Ani by means of explosions in the mines located 600 meters from the Turkish border. The letter claimed that the explosions are causing damage to the Ani Cathedral–another church–and a mosque.
UNESCO forwarded the letter to the Armenian government–requesting a review of the matter. Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian sent a letter to Industry and Trade Minister Karen Chshmaritian–requesting him to take appropriate measures. The blasting operations were stopped in case damage was actually being caused to the medieval Armenian capital of Ani–which is treasured by all Armenia’s.
Chshmaritian has stated that the mining will resume till May 31 so that the St. Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral in Yerevan can be completed.
The foreign ministry statement says Armenia understands and agrees with the concerns raised by Turkey. However–the Armenian side does not have the slightest intention of damaging the ruins of Ani. The fact that the Turks chose to apply to international bodies before approaching Armenia is an indication of Turkish efforts to politicize the issue–rather than deal with the actual problem of preserving the landmarks–says the statement.
The Turkish government’s concern for historic Armenian landmarks located on its territory is inconsistent with the decades-long official Turkish state policy of intentionally destroying or converting these landmarks into Turkish monumen’s.