Liturgy in Holy Cross Church proved Armenians of Istanbul have not
changed for 95 years
The danger of what happened on September19 is that Turkey might turn a
couple of more churches into a museum, allow divine services there and
then with a clear conscience pursue the policy of denying the Armenian

The liturgy in Holy Cross Church on the island of Akhtamaris now over,
generating many questions and, unfortunately, aconviction that the
ArmenianPatriarchate of Constantinoplenever had the courage or the
sound mind to refuse the service. We say unfortunately because
Archbishop Aram Ateshyan and the clergy of the Patriarchate become
partof the much-advertised Turkish show under the name of `tolerant
Turkey'. And, again, unfortunately, they were not the only ones there.

September 21, 2010

With an enviable masochism and with almost a reverence, a number of
Armenian media sources successfully replaced the Turkish ones,
enthusiastically describing the meetings in Van and the liturgy
itself. Probably, they sincerely believed they were performing their
professional duties. In fact, no one argues, but there must be a limit
to everything, and in this case it would be sensible to follow the
example of the Turkish media, which limited itself to the mere
statement of the fact and wrote the same things as before the liturgy.
Certain representatives of St. Echmiadzin acted quite like the
Armenian press too.

`Declaring that holding a liturgy in the church Holy Cross on Akhtamar
Island is just another show of Turkey, Armenia has turned this issue
into a subject of speculation,' at a press conference in Yerevan said
Archimandrite of Ararat Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church,
Komitas Hovnanian. Moreover, the archimandrite considers it wrong that
the Armenians should not have taken part in the liturgy.

In his revelations the Holy Father went even further, saying that it
was exactly Armenia that achieved conduct of a liturgy in the Curch of
Holy Cross. It would be difficult to think up a better absurdity.
Simply Turkey decided that it was necessary and she did it. And on the
whole, it is all the same for the Government of this country how many
Armenians were present - 100 or 10 thousand. The most important point
is that the liturgy was held, giving Ankara a bargaining chip in the
negotiations, in the EU, and finally in the USA. Only a very limited
person for whom the world ends at the threshold of his house would not
notice it. Again unfortunately, so it is for the majority of the
clergymen of the Armenian Apostolic Church. The only thing that
Echmiadzin proved to be capable of was the refusal to participate in
the liturgy. Even so, it can be assumed that this decision was made
after the boycott of Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, Aram I.
And surprisingly the cold attitude of Turkey to this action, which can
hardly be called a liturgy, did not put anyone to their guard. The
Armenians of Istanbul obviously expected some high-ranking official
from Ankara, but no one came, apart from the administration of the
Vilayet of Van. And why should there be? The church is restored,
UNESCO and the world are satisfied or pretend to be satisfied. What
else is necessary? But nobody learnt that the road to the church is
lined with broken khachkars (stone-crosses), graves of priests are
desecrated and the entire monastery complex, except for the church
remained in ruins and no one will ever think of recover it. Not to
mention thousands of destroyed and desecrated temples.

The last Archbishop of the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople
before the World War I, Maghakia Ormanian, still in 1913 warned his
congregation about the danger and untrustworthiness of the Ottomans.
The congregation, alas, would not listen to reason of late. We
witnessed the awful results - half a million killed, half a million
scattered. And how many were forcibly expelled! Their descendants now
suddenly `recovered their sight' and began to talk about their
Armenian roots. And we, the residents of Armenia, almost with
tenderness begin to talk about some Turkish leader, claiming he is
actually an Armenian, and not a Turk. Who do we deceive and why is a
rhetorical question.

The danger of what happened on September19 is that Turkey might turn a
couple of more churches into a museum, allow divine services there and
then with a clear conscience pursue the policy of denying the Armenian
Genocide. And we have no doubt that things will go exactly that way...

Generally it must be said that the Armenians still live on myths about
Turkey as a state and the Armenian community of Istanbul. In
particular, the community is presented as a hostage in the hands of
the Turkish state, although this is true only partially. In fact, the
Armenians of Istanbul do not live so badly, the main thing for them to
remember is not to stand out from the Ottoman mass. And we must admit
that this community, formerly led by Archbishop Mesrop Mutafyan, and
now by Aram Ateshyan, has so far been doing it quite successfully. The
logic is simple - we'll sit still and nothing will happen. The
Istanbul Armenians never learned the lesson of 1915, and the proof of
it is the murder of Hrant Dink, the threats against the patriarch and
common members of the community. It comes down to the fact that editor
of the Zhamanak daily Ara Kochunyan does not use the term `genocide'
in the pages of his publications... In this regard, very remarkable
are the words of Armenian poet, MP Grigor Zohrap in the night of 23 -
24 of April 1915. When he was told that he must escape since a
massacre was ahead, he replied: `Really? The Turks are our friends.
Yesterday I was playing backgammon with Talat, he would have told
me...'. 95 years has passed since then and nothing has changed: all
the Armenians are naive and believe in the power of applications,
letters, protests; the Turks continue their policy of eradication of
ermenimilliyet. It will always be so, until we have priests like
Archimandrite Hovnanian and pastors like the Patriarch of

Karine Ter-Sahakyan

From: A. Papazian