YEREVAN (Hurriyet)—A planned project to rebuild the ruins of an historical Armenian bridge that once connected the two shores of the Arpa River is being accelerated, the Armenian head of a monuments preservation organization in Turkey was quoted by the Hurriyet Daily as saying on Thursday.
The announcement comes after the effective collapse of talks between Armenia and Turkey aimed at normalizing relations and opening borders.
Gagik Gyurjian, the Chairman of the International Council of Monuments and Sites, said that despite the “negligible progress” in the rapprochement between Turkey and Armenia, “cultural representatives from both countries have been quietly restoring shared heritage important to both.”
The bridge, located in the ancient city of Ani, is situated on the current Armenian-Turkish border in the eastern province of Kars. The ruins have been deteriorating at an accelerated rate since the end of World War I, when Turkey cleansed the region’s indigenous Armenian population through genocide.
“We can collaborate with non-governmental organizations away from the shadow of politics. We do not need to wait for the opening of borders for a peace passage,” Gyurjian was quoted by Hurriyet as saying.
“Our cultural artifacts have been destroyed up until this point and our traces have been denied,” he added. “They are Armenian cultural artifacts, but they now form part of the richness of Turkey.”
Echoing Gyrujian’s sentiments, Armenian Monuments Awareness Project President Richard Ney said the bridge should become an international symbol for world peace passage rather than just a link between Turkey and Armenia.
“The protection of the region around Ani is important because of the role the area played historically. As a fulcrum of the Silk Road, Ani was more than a capital for Armenia,” he said. “It was also a center of international trade and a city of peace. In its heyday, Arabs and Europeans, Christians and Muslims lived in peace and prosperity. Ani was truly an international city.”