|"The controversial and uncompleted monument in Kars is being dismantled." (Associated Press)|
By Shaun Walker
The Independent, April 27, 2011
"A monument built to celebrate friendship between Turkey and Armenia is being dismantled, in a gesture that shows how much an attempted rapprochement between the two nations has stalled. The statue, in the eastern Turkish city of Kars, depicts two figures emerging from a single mass, signifying common ground between nations with a bitter and difficult history, and was commissioned in 2006 to commemorate cautiously improving ties between them. The countries have been in dispute over the mass killings of up to 1.5 million Armenians during the First World War which Armenia, along with most of the rest of the world, says was genocide but which Turkey refuses to acknowledge as such. Ankara insists that deaths occurred on both sides during a situation of civil war. A crane has been brought to dismantle the 35-metre statue and yesterday the head from one of the figures, which alone weighed 19 tonnes, was removed. The demolition process is expected to take more than a week. 'I am really sorry, sorry on behalf of Turkey,' said Mehmet Aksoy, creator of the monument. 'They can demolish it, we will re-make it.' Tentative efforts at mending ties between Turkey and Armenia started a few years ago, and in 2008 negotiations began to open the long-sealed border between the countries, which would have boosted trade and commerce and proved especially useful to landlocked Armenia. Last year talks were abandoned, and rhetoric between the two has become increasingly tense.