Old church turns into culture center
ISTANBUL - Anatolia News Agency
Vortvots Vorodman Armenian Church reopened on Dec 28. The church has not been used since World War I and turned into a culture center after restoration.Turkish Customs and Trade Minister Hayati Yazıcı inaugurated Vortvots Vorodman Armenian Church Culture Center in Istanbul Dec. 28, using the opportunity to discuss Turkish-Armenian relations.
Referring to a recent French resolution that criminalizes the denial of Armenian allegations regarding 1915 incidents adopted by French Parliament, Yazıcı said it was wrong to assess Turkish-Armenian relations within the range of only a short period of time during World War I. The Turkish-Armenian friendship was nearly 1,000 years old, he said.
Yazıcı said Armenians were defined as “loyal people” during the Ottoman Empire period, and said there had been no problem between Turks and Armenians until the 20th century. Today, according to unofficial figures, nearly 100,000 Armenians are living in Turkey, said Yazıcı.
Noting Turkey’s views regarding the 1915 incidents were based on archives, documents and scientific research, Yazıcı said it would be the most correct thing to leave the issue to historians of both countries. Parliaments should not act like courts and should not make judgments relating to such issues, said Yazıcı, adding involvement in this process for political advantage by third countries like France was wrong.
The Lower House of French Parliament recently passed a resolution criminalizing rejection of Armenian allegations pertaining to the incidents of 1915. Only 70 of 577 parliamentarians joined the voting of the resolution, which passed after winning the vote majority.
The resolution proposes a one-year prison term and a fine of 45,000 euros for those who deny genocide recognized by French laws. French Parliament already officially recognized the 1915 Armenian “genocide” on Jan. 29, 2001.
Vortvots Vorodman (Children of Thunder) Church, which opened for worship Oct. 14, 1828, has not been used since World War I. The building was restored as part of the scope of projects initiated around Istanbul European Capital of Culture 2010.