The Armenian cultural heritage sites that the government of Turkey decided to rehabilitate over the last several years were restored solely by the Turkish side with no formal and systematic engagement of Armenian specialists. Moreover, the restored monuments were mainly presented to the world as “Anatolian medieval architectural monuments” with no mention of their Armenian origin. As a positive development, since recently, there is more mention of the Armenian origins in the information site of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Turkey. To support the positive wave, as part of the ATNP 1, in fall 2014, EPF and Anadolu Kültür supported a group of architects, restoration specialists, historians, ethnographers and art historians from Turkey and Armenia to make an assessment visit to study Armenian cultural heritage in and around the area of Mush.
The experts spent six days in Mush, Varto, Norshen and other locations visiting around twenty Armenian monuments including monasteries, churches (both original and converted to mosques), castles, bridges, fountains, watermills and baths. This was the first bilateral initiative of Armenia- and Turkey-based specialists to carry out such a study. In the joint wrap-up meeting held after the study visit the experts underlined the need to continue such initiatives to prepare more detailed assessment reports for the preservation and possible restoration of some sites. The significant impact of this activity was not only the professional dialogue among the experts but also the dynamic it accelerated after a week of joint group work impacting Armenia-Turkey normalisation on Track Two level.
Given the continued lack of official relations between the two countries, EPF’s and Anadolu Kültür’s contribution could be instrumental in bringing together art/architecture experts and other relevant specialists from Armenia and Turkey to further support the (proper) rehabilitation of the Armenian cultural heritage in Turkey. EPF and Anadolu Kültür will manage the logistics and the programme of the visits, and will make sure that in Turkey the visitors have an opportunity to have meetings and discussions with stakeholders (local and national, state and non-state), as well as site-visits to a number of culturally significant sites. The experts will produce a joint assessment report outlining the risks and rehabilitation prospects of the examined monuments, which will be submitted to the authorities and other stakeholders including foreign embassies and international agencies (EU Delegations, US Embassies, UK Embassies, UNICEF, WHO, etc.)
The activity will further facilitate and deepen formal and informal contacts between art/architecture experts from Turkey and Armenia to create a solid foundation for proper rehabilitation of Armenian cultural heritage in Turkey. The activity will also promote the actual engagement (formal or informal) of the Armenia-based architecture/art experts and/or other relevant specialists in the rehabilitation of Armenian cultural heritage in Turkey.
On September 13, 2018, Urban Foundation for Sustainable Development (UFSD) hosted a workshop on “Exchange of Best Practices in Plastic Waste Management between Armenia- and Turkey-based CSOs and Practitioners.” The workshop is part of a project that contributes to the development of cooperation between environmentalists, waste management practitioners, businesses and local authorities of Armenia and Turkey through sharing best practices in plastic waste management. The grantee, Urban Foundation for Sustainable Development in partnership with the Union of Diyarbakir Young Businessmen organized a 1-day workshop in Diyarbakir with participation of 20 representatives of local authorities, plastic waste management practitioners, environmental CSOs, businesses in the field of plastic waste separation and recycling from Armenia and Turkey. The workshop was followed by a study visit to Plastic Waste Recycling Plant in Diyarbakir, as well as a follow-up exchange workshop in Yerevan. Based on the results of the study visit and workshops UFSD will produce a booklet on the best practices of plastic waste management in Armenia and Turkey. The project will result in an increased awareness of stakeholders of the plastic waste management practiced on the other side of the border, as well as will provide an opportunity for networking between practitioners and businesses focusing on plastic waste management. Representatives of local authorities may consider replicating the best practices in plastic waste management in their own communities.
This activity took place within the framework of the Sub-grants Scheme implemented by Eurasia Partnership Foundation as part of the “Support to the Armenia-Turkey Normalization Process” programme, funded by the European Union and the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.