Sunday, January 5, 2003

Dispute in Turkey over restoration of Armenian memorials

"The fear of these policymakers is that if Christian sites are restored, this will prove that Armenians once lived here and revive Armenian claims on our land," Celik said during a recent interview in Van. Restoring the church on Akdamar, he said, will be a priority for the new government formed by his party, which won a majority of seats in parliament during the Nov. 3 election.Muslim Turks and Christian Armenians remain bitterly divided over allegations that hundreds of thousands of ethnic Armenians were massacred in eastern Turkey during and after World War I. Turkey denies charges of genocide. Its officials insist that Armenians took up arms alongside invading Russian forces during the war and that most of the victims died of starvation and exposure while fleeing the combat.

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