Press TV, Iran
Dec 29 2011

Historical Armenian Church re-opens in Istanbul

Attended by dignitaries and leading government ministers, the
re-opening of the Vortvots vorodman church in Istanbul was an
important moment for both the Armenian and Turkish people.

Built in 1828, but abandoned 100 years ago, during the conflict
between Armenia and the Ottoman Empire, its restoration was part of
Istanbul's 2010 European capitol of Culture's heritage and
preservation projects.

Yet under the current political air, the re-opening of an Armenian
Church has even greater significance. Turkey's current dispute with
France over their government's approval of the `Armenian bill' has
thrown Turkey's relations with its Armenian population under the

Turkey says the deaths of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire during
World War 1, was a `fight between two good friends' and to recognize
them as otherwise is reactionary.

But Turkish Armenians and 20 countries around the world, including
France, don't see it that way.

The killing/murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in 2007
by OgŁn Samast, a 17-year old Turkish nationalist, shows how fragile
that friendship is.

Today, there are approximately 70,000 Armenians in Turkey from was
once a population of nearly 2 million a century ago. Events under
Ottoman rule during WW1 had a significant affect on those numbers.
Father Tatoul see the governments help to restore this church as an

While there are hundreds of Armenian churches in Turkey, most of them
are either in ruins or are being used for other purposes.

One of the most famous is Akdamar Kilesi or Church of the Holy Cross.
Dating back to the 10th century it too was abandoned during World War
1. In 2005 the Turkish government began restoring the building. The
1.5 million us dollars project was seen as a diplomatic step to
improve relations with Armenia.

While some are hopeful that the re-opening of Armenian churches in
Turkey could pave the way for the re-opening of renewed relations
between the two sides...there are more still that say there are too many
walls in the way of this restoration project.

From: Baghdasarian