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Old 14.02.2007, 12:33   #1
Im blond whats ur excuse?
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Default Iz serii vokrug sveta ili dnevnik puteshestvennika

Well after nailing my colours firmly to the mast in the last post, I have to say that Armenia is a fantastic place to travel. The first Christian country in the world, in 309 AD Grigor the Illuminator succeeded in converting the country and founded a church still unique in the world. I never paid it much attention, but there was even an Armenian church in Singapore. It really is a country of churches, and one of the wonderful things about a walk around Yerevan is that, in order to not draw too much Soviet attention to them, the small chapels are hidden everywhere throughout the city - inside the courtyards of drab apartment blocks which were build around them, down dusty old lanes and so on.

We've visited the 'Vatican' of the Armenian church which houses fragments of Noah's Ark, the lance used to pierce the side of Jesus before the crucification and many other closely guarded artefacts.

We also took a trip to Lake Sevan - the second highest lake in the world (though we've heard that before somewhere) and will visit several more monastaries next week before heading back to Tbilisi in Georgia (obviously there is no open Armenian-Turkish border).


29 October 06

We visited the Museum of Armenian Genocide this morning. Recognising the attrocities committed by the Ottoman Turks against the Eastern Armenian community during WWI seems very a la mode at present, maybe because of Turkey's impending entry into the EU. A huge memorial has been recently erected along with the museum a couple of years ago, and various world leaders have planted trees alongside to indicate their support.

Inside the museum are some fairly emotive photos and paintings of people starved to death, heads on sticks and people being hanged, along with small piles of dirt from each of the 12 provinces of 'Western Armenia'. The photos are newly captioned (in French thanks to Chirac's recent visit) with labels along the lines of 'Example 5 of the barbarism of the Turkish people'.

While of course it's hard to argue on the side of the Turks in this case, I have to admit that this museum worried me intensely, especially as we saw the large groups of 10 year old schoolchildren being herded through it. The memorial is wonderful and touching, especially in its lovely spot in front of the biblical Mt Ararat. But I personally find it difficult to understand the goal of such a museum except to feed nationalism, anger and paranoia. Though rather unlikely, the only place such a museum could serve a useful purpose might be in Istanbul.

In the '90s, Armenia, a small Christian country squeezed between Islamic countries to the east and west, declared war on its Muslim neighbour, Azerbaijan, which was seeking to reign in a separatist province (Nargorno-Karabach) containing a large proportion of Christians. Mainly due to the huge amount of aid that Armenia receives from the USA (second only to Israel) Azerbaijan took a beating that it's still recovering from. Maybe it's not PC to talk down the genocide - and sure, acknowledging it wouldn't cost Turkey too much - but it's easy to draw parallels, and the world doesn't need another Israel. The recent, seemingly deliberate stirring up of this history (mostly on the part of Armenians living in the USA) seems sure to cause more harm than good.

Ostal'noe zdes' (o gostepriimstve azerbaijancev mozhno uznat' mnogoe )
Regardz Megardz
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