YEREVAN (Armenpress)–Armenia’s Culture Ministry revealed on Wednesday that Turkey has not responded to Armenian initiatives to create a cultural corridor between the medieval Armenian city of Ani (now in Eastern Turkey–close to the Armenian border) and Armenia.
Although the idea was put forth in 2001 by various international organizations–including UNESCO–only a verbal agreement has been reached so far.
Ani–the ancient–walled capital of the kings from the Bagradit dynasty who ruled Armenia from the 9-11 centuries AD–was in its heyday a millennium ago and a rival to Constantinople–Baghdad–and Cairo. Despite earthquakes and Mongol raids–much of Ani’s immense–fortified walls–as well as the city’s citadel–caravansary–cathedral–and six churches still stand well preserved–their stone facades a testament to a well-developed level of craftsmanship. Today–Ani is a ghost town–deserted except for the presence of Turkish border guards and the occasional tourists.
"Making Ani a cultural center remains a focus of Armenia’s foreign policy–as Armenia is firmly committed to improved relations with Turkey; cultural dialogue is one of ways to do this," deputy minister of culture Gagik Gurjian said.
The ministry has forwarded to Turkey’s cultural ministry–proposals on joint Armenian-American excavations in Akhtamar and Van–and a draft for continuing research; however–both proposals have remained unanswered.
According to Gurjian–Turkey has appealed to the European Parliament to provide funding for the restoration of several monumen’s in Eastern Anatolia–including the ancient Armenian cities of Van and Igdir. If funding is approved–the Armenian ministry would attempt to include Armenian monumen’s in these regions involved in the project.