Turkey to restore Armenian church of Ottoman Empire period

20:35, March 24, 2010      

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A near 300-year-old Armenian church in the hometown of a famous Turkish-Armenian journalist will be restored, the semi-official Anatolia news agency reported Wednesday.

The restoration of the Tashoron Church, located in the Cavusoglu neighborhood of East Turkey's Malatya Province, will be carried out with the support of the Malatya Municipality, said Latif Yildirim, president of a local mosque foundation.

Yildirim said the church was constructed in the 18th century during the reign of the Ottoman Empire and showed "a tolerant and libertarian culture" in that period.

"People lived all together and practised their religious beliefs freely in those times. This happens and should happen today as well," he said.

The Cavusoglu neighborhood is the birthplace of journalist Hrant Dink, the editor-in-chief of the bilingual Turkish-Armenian weekly Agos who was shot dead outside his newspaper's offices in Istanbul in 2007, the agency said.

Turkey and Armenia have seen tensions rise after a U.S. congressional panel and the Swedish parliament passed non-binding resolutions that recognize the killings of Armenians by Ottoman forces during the World War I as genocide this month, drawing ire from Ankara.

Armenians claim that more than 1.5 million Armenians were killed in a systematic genocide during the World War I, but the Turkish government insists that the Armenians were victims of widespread chaos and governmental breakdown as the Ottoman empire collapsed before modern Turkey was created in 1923.

The two countries signed protocols to normalize relations last October but the protocols needed to be ratified by the two countries' parliaments before taking effect. Turkish authorities have warned the row over the "genocide" claims could hamper the normalization process.

Source: Xinhua
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