Medieval Armenian capital of Ani has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The decision was made at the 40th session of the World Heritage Committee in Turkey.
“What’s important for Armenia is that the site’s inclusion in the list provides certain guarantees of its preservation,” Vahram Kazhoyan, Secretary General of Armenian National Commission for UNESCO, told reporters in Yerevan today. He said, this becomes more important under the conditions of the strained relations between Armenia and Turkey.
“On a more practical level this means that any actions connected with the monument, be it maintenance, restoration or even management of tourist flows will be reported to UNESCO,” Kazhoyan said. He stressed that no changes can be made to the site without permission from UNESCO.
Besides, he said it was important from the point of view of popularization of the monument. The application clearly mentions the Armenian origin of Ani. To leave no doubt the Armenian side published a booklet about Ani, which presents the city’s history as the capital of the Armenian kingdom of the Bagratides. It was disseminated among all who could have any influence on the decision-making, Vahram Kazhoyan said.
Before Turkey would submit the application, the Armenian side had been frequently raising the issue of the state of Armenian cultural heritage in Turkey.
“Had Turkey tried to submit the application without mentioning the Armenian belonging of the city, it would be rejected by the expert group of the Committee,” Deputy Minister of Culture Nerses Ter-Vardanyan said.
Turkey’s initial bid was called “Cultural landscape of Ani,” which was quickly rejected with many questions raised about the belonging of the city, its cultural layers, maintenance, and especially the work done since 1918,” he said.
The Deputy Minister praised the final application submitted by Turkey. “Of course it was not ideal, but not bad,” he said.