YEREVAN (PanARMENIAN)—Director of the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute, historian Hayk Demoyan said that the planned religious ceremony scheduled for September 19 at the Holy Cross Armenian Church on Akhtamar Island is just another show by Turkey.
“The 10th century Holy Apostles (Surp Arakelots) Armenian temple has been converted into a mosque. I would rather have the Turkish authorities restore this temple to its original state, instead of organizing a ceremony at Holy Cross,” said Demoyan, describing the planned one-day religious service as an act which is meant to fool the international community, rather than appease it.
He added that it would be prudent if Armenia refrained from sending an official delegation to participate in the ceremony at the Holy Cross church, which was once the seat of the Armenian Catholicos.
The 1,100-year-old Akhtamar Church was opened in 2007 at a ceremony that hosted officials from Armenia and Turkey following a controversial two-year long restoration process by the Turkish government. The restoration cost some $1.7 million.
Earlier this year, Turkey gave permission for an annual religious rite that would take place every year at the church in the second week of September, upon proposal by the Van Governor’s Office and approval by Turkish Minister of Culture and Tourism Ertugrul Gunay
The Turkish authorities, who have not placed a cross on the church yet, continue violating provisions of the Treaty of Lausanne signed in 1923, Demoyan told a press conference in Yerevan.
According to the historian, Armenian-Turkish relations should not be assessed as a separate process any longer, but rather it should be addressed within the context of regional development between neighboring countries.
“The first stage of the Armenian-Turkish relations ended with the signing of the two protocols, but not their ratification. The Turkish side devalued the essence of those documents,” Demoyan said.
“These two protocols helped to expose two bluffs by Turkey, which had been misleading the international community ever since Armenia’s independence. The first was that Armenia had territorial claims. The second one concerned the Armenian Genocide. The Turkish side did not ratify the protocols, which envisioned the subcommittee on historic issues, because they came to understand that irrespective of the signing and ratification of the protocols the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide would continue to be a separate process,” added Demoyan.
The Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute’s aim is to accurately document and illustrate all materials related to the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923. Demoyan has held the post as the museum’s director since 2005.