Erdogan fined $4,000 for calling statue to Armenian-Turkish friendship a ‘monstrosity’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been ordered to pay a TL 10,000 (about $4,000) fine for calling a statue in the eastern province of Kars a “monstros,” Today’s Zaman reports, quoting Cihan news agency.

The Istanbul 3rd Civil Court of Peace ruled on Tuesday that Erdogan must pay TL 10,000 to sculptor Mehmet Aksoy for psychological damage the president caused by calling the statue in Kars a monstrosity.

Erdogan and Aksoy were represented by their lawyers during the hearing. Speaking to journalists, Erdogan’s lawyer Erdopan Ferah Yıldız said they will file an appeal against the court decision.

In January 2011, Erdogan, who was prime minister at the time, criticized Aksoy’s statue, titled “Monument to Humanity,” which also meant to symbolize friendship between Turkey and Armenia, saying: “They put a monstrosity next to the tomb of [Muslim scholar] Hasan Harakani. It is impossible to think that such a thing should exist next to fundamental works of art.” He said he hopes Kars Mayor Nevzat Bozkuş, who hails from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), will do what is necessary with the area in which the statue is located by the time he visits again, and mentioned that he hopes he builds a park there instead.

The statue was then taken down on June 14, 2011, by the Kars Municipality.

Aksoy, the sculptor of the statue, strongly criticized Erdogan’s comment, saying that his work carries anti-war themes and messages of friendship. He then filed a lawsuit against Erdogan for insulting his statue, seeking TL 100,000 in compensation for psychological damage sustained due to the insult.

The statue, which is of two 30-meter-tall concrete figures reaching out to each other, was built on a hill above Kars, just 40 kilometers from the Armenian border, in 2008. The “Monument to Humanity” was also meant to symbolize the friendship between Turkey and Armenia.

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