ANTELIAS–Lebanon–In their Jan. 21 issues–the "Ortan" and "Kibris" newspapers published in the occupied Turkish Cypriot territory ran as front page stories–with pictures–the restoration and conversion to a tourist hotel of the Armenian Monastery. The historical Sourp Magar Monastery also known as Armenian Monastery which has been ruined and plundered will be restored and turned into a tourist hotel–at a cost of $1 million. The Monastery was built in the 10th century in an area near Helevka–Cyprus–now the Turkish-occupied Kyrenia range near the village of Khartza.
The Council of Ministers of Turkish-Cyprus decided to lease the monastery and its surrounding for 49 years to the Department of Museums and Antiques. It reported that restoration work will be carried out under the full supervision of the Department of Museums and Antiques and will last for three years. Once completed in two to three years–the monastery will be turned into a 50 bed tourist hotel. It will be leased for $20,000 per year and the rent will be considered an investment
In an interview with the Turkish Cypriot News Agency (TAK)–the Director of the Department of Museums and Antiques–Ali Kanli–said that the restoration of the monastery–which is in a state of dilapidation because of lack of maintenance and due to natural causes–is beyond the State’s means. Kanli reported that the Monument Higher Council found suitable a proposal made by architect-businessman Dervis Sonmezlev with whom a preliminary contract has been signed.
The second phase of the contract will allow Kanli’s Department full supervision. Kanli said they will continue to preserve and maintain historic sites.
In response to the abovementioned violation of religious values and expression–His Holiness Aram I–Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia addressed a letter of complaint to the Executive Director of UNESCO–the General Secretary of the United Nations–the President of Cyprus–the President of the Republic of Armenia–the International Religious Council–the National Assembly of Armenia–the Catholicos of All Armenia’s–and international organizations and news agencies.
Catholicos Aram I’s letter recognized the so-called restoration effort sacrilegious and non-humanitarian. The Pontiff called on all Armenia’s to voice their opposition to this "modern-day genocide of our religious and cultural values."