Politics 19:09 11/05/2010

Reconstruction of bridge between Armenia and Turkey matter of time

Author Hasmik Hambardzumyan

If the efforts of a group of Armenian architects and culture figures prove successful, the main bridge of the Armenian medieval capital of Ani between Armenia and Turkey will be reconstructed.

“This is matter of time,” the head of the Union of Architects of Armenia Mkrtich Minasyan says. He is one of the initiators of the project and he is convinced that the reconstruction of the bridge would be of symbolic significance. “This bridge does not just connect the two banks but the two countries, and through time people, the representatives of the two nations, will be able to communicate,” the architect explained.

It’s the Armenian party that has raised the reconstruction of the medieval bridge, connecting the Armenian Kharkov and Turkish Ani bordering residences. The project has been filed to the Turkish side and the latter expressed willingness to restore the bridge, though, have taken no steps towards it by now.

Former Deputy Culture Minister of Armenia and current ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites) Armenia President Gagik Gyurjyan says “the bridge is half-heritage.”

“Both Turkey and Armenia have joined lots of conventions on the preservation of the cultural heritage and are obliged to contribute to the joint preservation of this very heritage. So, as half-heritage, we have initiated to restore the bridge, irrespective of borders,” Gyurjyan said.

According to the Turkish media, the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey, TEPAV, has submitted the project to Turkish high authorities and the latter have approved it.

“This damaged bridge, built by the Armenian Kingdom, is associated with the total absence of economic and political relations between the two countries and its reconstruction could symbolize the new era of bilateral relations,” Turkish media wrote.

The capital of Ani, founded by the Bagratids in 961 A.D., was one of the outstanding cities of historical Armenia, known for its temples, churches, walls. Historians evidence that  5 stone bridges, over 30 m long, on Akhuryan River tied Ani with the outer world.

Monument specialist Samvel Karapetyan has not been informed about the initiative and he is not involved in the works. “This is a unique bridge, we have had few such bridges,” he said.

“Ani is a collection of pearls: both religious and architectural, like this bridge. Ani has such a school of architecture, any monument here is a pearl,” Karapetyan said.

“After reconstruction it may serve for pedestrians and can be best sample of cultural heritage at the same time,” ICOMOS President says. “Tourists will use the bridge to get to Ani from Shirak,” this is what Mkrtich Minasyan thinks.

However, Samvel Karapetyan is more interested why restore the bridge, for in Ani there are thousands of monuments worth reconstruction. “The words on establishing connection are hollow. Any building can be a way of establishing connection. The bridge has no stressed identity for the Turkish, that is to say, they are afraid to touch an Armenian church or monastery, while, about bridges they could say: how on earth it comes to be Armenian? Only religious constructions – khachkars, cemeteries, churches – highlight the national identity and they are afraid to approach these,” he said.

Anyway, Minasyan says, a bid has been submitted with ICOMOS to back the reconstruction of the bridge.


Source Panorama.am
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