MP: Turkish government uses demolition of monument in Kars for pre-election race

Politics Materials 15 January 2011 18:00 (UTC +04:00)

Azerbaijan, Baku, Jan. 15 /Trend, A.Akhundov/

The call to demolish the monument to the Armenian-Turkish friendship in Kars is a political move of the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan prior to the upcoming parliamentary elections in June, Turkish opposition MP Senol Bal said.

"Making the statement to demolish the monument, the Prime Minister uses discontent of the local population with the existence of this monument and its location is in Kars in his political struggle. This monument has been standing there for several years, and it was remembered only now - before the elections. All of these are a political show," an MP from the Nationalist Movement Party, Ball, told Trend by telephone from Ankara.

Erdogan during last week's visit to Kars touched upon the issue of a monument on the Armenian-Turkish friendship constructed under the city's former mayor, calling it a monstrous and he said it should be dismantled. Kars was one of the sites in the battlegrounds of the Russo-Turkish wars and the National liberation movement in Turkey.

"The graves of tens of thousands of Turkish soldiers are located here. The location of a statue which symbolizes the friendship of the Turkish and Armenian peoples in such a place naturally causes dissatisfaction of the local population. The Prime Minister understands and uses this," said Ball.

The events in early twentieth century, which Yerevan called "Armenian genocide" occurred in these areas of Turkey. Yerevan's claims for the recognition of the "Armenian genocide" in the world and Armenia's occupation of Azerbaijani lands have caused the severance of diplomatic relations between Turkey and Armenia and the borders between the two countries were closed in 1993.

Earlier on Friday, Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian expressed his regret for the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's statements. "Any new step, aimed at rejection of the Armenian-Turkish normalization process can only harm the process," Nalbandian said at a news conference in Yerevan.

In response, the Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said that dismantling the monument of the Armenian-Turkish friendship in Kars is purely Turkey's internal affair and is not due to the relations with Armenia.

The Turkish Government considers the demolition of the monument is absolutely legitimate, and declares that it has no political overtones.

An MP from the ruling Justice and Development Party, Mustafa Kabakchi, told Trend by telephone that it is only the demolition of the illegal monument.
"The establishment of this monument in the historic part of the city, where the ancient architectural monuments from the time of the Seljuks are located, is illegal. In spite of the prohibition of the Supreme Body for Monuments Protection, the monument was built after the intervention of local government," said Kabakchi.

The monument is the Turkish sculptor Mehmet Aksoy's work. The height of the monument is more than 30 meters, weight - about 1,500 tons. The monument, with a height of 30 meters, reflects two figures rushing to each other. It is set on a hill 40 kilometers from the border with Armenia.

A source at the Kars municipality told Trend that the monument to the Armenian-Turkish friendship in Kars will be demolished soon.

"Over the next two months, we expect the relevant decision by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. As soon as we receive it, we will begin demolition of the monument," said the municipality. After completion of the technical work on the demolition of the monument, a park will be established in its place.