Official circles and media of Turkey occasionally claim that they restore historical and cultural monuments scattered around the country. In the scopes of this “marketing” campaign, the government of Turkey held several events, including the visit of the Akhtamar Island in Lake Van by the representatives of the embassies of several countries who have been accredited in Istanbul.
The purpose of the visit was to demonstrate to the diplomats the process of the restoration of the antique Armenian Surb Khach Church. As an Armenian media agency Panorama.am reported, some time has passed since the beginning of the so-called restoration works, and the results are, to put it mildly, outrageous: Turks ripped off the slabs from the gravestones of Armenian clergymen and even simply broke some of them. What remained of the gravestones was raked up in a pile. The floor of the church was covered by a 20cm-thick layer of concrete laid as the basis of the new facing. Witnesses told that during the deployment of the construction site, historical monuments located in close vicinity to the church were also damaged.
According to the available information, the Turkish government planned to dedicate $1,5 million to the renovation of the Surb Khach Church. The works would be carried out with the use of such “modern” building materials as mazut.
It is known that the majority of Armenian historical-cultural monuments in Turkey was destroyed not only in the years of the Armenian Genocide (1915 – 1923) but also in the 1960s. The government of Turkey has been attempting to eradicate the trace of the Armenians, especially since the 1960s. The Surb Khach Church was also included in their black list.
However, the Surb Khach Church would be somewhat renovated, and it now stands in the condition described above. It was reopened in 2010 for the patriarchy to serve a liturgy on every first Sunday of September once a year.