Armenia: Turkish Mayor Calls for Allowing Armenian Religious Service in Restored Church
Amid a cautious rapprochement between Turkey and Armenia, Turkish officials are considering a request to allow an Armenian-language religious service to be held in a historic church near the city of Van.
Van Mayor Munir Karaoglu asked Ankara to allow a church service once a year in a 10th-century church on an island in Van Lake, the Kavkazsky Uzel news service reported on November 17. The church now functions as a museum.
The church used to be the seat of the head of the Armenian Apostolic Church until it was partially destroyed during the Turkish crackdown on ethnic Armenians in 1915. Karaoglu offered to open the church for an annual service in recognition of the Armenian pilgrims who regularly visit the site, but ruled out restoring it as a fully-functioning church, Kavkazsky Uzel reported.