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The present state of Armenian cultural treasures in Turkey

Motion for a recommendation | Doc. 11511 | 25 January 2008

Mr Raffi HOVANNISIAN, Armenia ; Mr Pedro AGRAMUNT, Spain, EPP/CD ; Mr Ioannis BANIAS, Greece ; Mr Walter BARTOŠ, Czech Republic ; Ms Marie-Louise BEMELMANS-VIDEC, Netherlands, EPP/CD ; Mr József BERÉNYI, Slovak Republic ; Ms Anne BRASSEUR, Luxembourg ; Mr Igor CHERNYSHENKO, Russian Federation ; Ms Åse Gunhild Woie DUESUND, Norway ; Ms Josette DURRIEU, France, SOC ; Mr Mátyás EÖRSI, Hungary, ALDE ; Mr José FREIRE ANTUNES, Portugal ; Mr György FRUNDA, Romania, EPP/CD ; Mr Andreas GROSS, Switzerland, SOC ; Baroness Gloria HOOPER, United Kingdom ; Mr Joachim HÖRSTER, Germany, EPP/CD ; Ms Sinikka HURSKAINEN, Finland, SOC ; Mr Erik JURGENS, Netherlands ; Ms Cecilia KEAVENEY, Ireland, ALDE ; Mr Markku LAUKKANEN, Finland, ALDE ; Ms Sabine LEUTHEUSSER-SCHNARRENBERGER, Germany, ALDE ; Mr Terry LEYDEN, Ireland, ALDE ; Ms Maria Manuela de MELO, Portugal, SOC ; Mr Stefano MORSELLI, Italy ; Ms Christine MUTTONEN, Austria ; Mr Philippe NACHBAR, France, EPP/CD ; Ms Antigoni PAPADOPOULOS, Cyprus

The Armenian genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire resulted not only in the death and total dispossession of more than 2 million people, but also in the decimation of the Armenian patrimony, its way of life, and its fundamental contributions to western culture and world civilisation.

Since 1915, thousands of historic Armenian churches, monasteries and other religious, spiritual and secular treasures belonging to European cultural heritage have been either completely destroyed or damaged to the extent of becoming immediately subject to the threat of disappearance.

Despite being a party to the European Cultural Convention and the Convention for the Protection of the Architectural Heritage of Europe, Turkey fails to fulfil the obligations and commitments it has assumed within the framework of these conventions, in particular respect of the preservation of Armenian cultural monuments which constitute an integral part of the common European cultural heritage.

The Assembly therefore recommends the Committee of Ministers:

i to call on the Government of Turkey, as a member state of the Council of Europe and a party to the aforementioned conventions, to respect and realise fully the international obligations which it has undertaken and in particular those provisions which relate to the protection of cultural heritage;
ii to urge the Government of Turkey accordingly to conduct in good faith a comprehensive, integrated inventory of the Armenian cultural heritage located under its jurisdiction, and based thereon to develop a strategy for priority restoration of all ancient and mediaeval Armenian capital cities, churches, fortresses, cemeteries and other treasures; and
iii together with the Secretariat, to take appropriate measures immediately towards the organisation of a Council of Europe expert mission to Turkey with the purpose of assessing the current state of the Armenian cultural heritage there, and to develop a long-term programme for the preservation of our common European heritage. In the designation and implementation of the programme, the Council’s rich experience in this domain, which includes its reconstruction, restoration and rehabilitation projects in South-Eastern Europe, should be taken into account.