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‘What Do You Want, Turkey to Return Armenian Lands?’ Asks Babayan

Former RA Deputy Minister of Culture Karine Khodikyan and Yerevan’s Puppet Theatre Director Ruben Babayan today turned their attention to the issue of the Holy Cross Armenian Church on Akhtamar Island September 19 mass, to which the Armenian Apostolic Church has been invited.

“I, as a citizen of the Republic of Armenia, won’t participate in that show: I have a 182-year-old fight with Turkey,” said Khodikyan, adding that Turkey has initiated such an event to show the world how tolerant it is, while the Turkish government has restored that structure as a museum, a cultural monument, which doesn’t have a cross, or any other symbol to show that it’s an Armenian church.

“I don’t want to participate in a comedy,” she said.

Babayan, agreeing with Khodikyan, said that he personally won’t go, but he also won’t make any appeals one way or another — whoever wants to go, let them go. 

“But we can’t allow this to become a reason for new hostility. Today, many when they speak of and glorify Hrant Dink as a representative of nationalism, I’m convinced, haven’t even read his work. Dink wasn’t a nationalist. He was attempting to reconcile the two peoples on the right path,” he said. 

“I don’t want to be a participant in an obligated game. We saw, welcomed by the clapping and laughing that began about 2.5 years ago, what Armenian policy christened with football brought: we entered into a game where we knew beforehand that we were defeated. They’ve converted the museum to a church for a day, when, I believe, no cross will be placed, no candles will be lit inside the walls, there’ll be Turkey’s usual real victory and Armenia’s next moral victory. I’m congratulating all of us on this occasion,” said Khodikyan. 

Babayan, on the other hand, said that being resentful won’t bring anything to the table and added: 

“If they’re playing a game, I want to pray: damn to him who wants to play. When thousands came out on the streets for Hrant Dink, many were saying that too is a game. What do you want, them to give us our lands, we get rid of the Kurds and go and say we’re here? We don’t even want to live in our own country, what are you going to do with those lands?

“Perhaps we should’ve offered to preserve their cultural monuments and demand that they preserve ours,” he said. 

“I don’t need those lands: I’m requesting neither land nor money. I’m asking that the Turkish state admits to the 1915 Armenian Genocide,” responded Khodikyan.

Finally, Babayan said that in any case he considers it right, the Armenian Apostolic Church accepting the invitation, and believes that it’ll be very good for the Turkish-Armenian community for citizens in the Republic of Armenia to go and stand by their side.