EUROPEAN HERITAGE AND FINANCIAL EXPERTS VISIT EREROUYK AND ANIPEMZA, ARMENIA
A delegation of heritage and financial experts from Europa Nostra, the leading heritage organisation in Europe, and the European Investment Bank Institute visited the archaeological site of Ererouyk and the village of Anipemza in Armenia, listed among The 7 Most Endangered heritage sites in Europe in 2016, and took part in various working meetings with local and national stakeholders on 19-23 July. On this occasion, the Minister of Culture Hasmik Poghosyan stated that “the presence of European experts in Armenia is highly appreciated” and that “the Ministery will take every possible measures to support the rehabilitation of Ererouyk and Anipemza”. The main goal of the expert mission was to collect useful information for the preparation of a technical and financial action plan for the rehabilitation of the site. The final report will be presented by the end of the year.
Sitting on a rocky plateau close to the Turkish‐Armenian border, Ererouyk was once one of the most important centres of worship in the region. Despite some restoration works undertaken in the last two decades, the 6th century basilica remains highly endangered. The surrounding archaeological area is at risk of being lost before it can be comprehensively studied. The Centre of Studies and Documentation of Armenian Culture in Italy (CSDCA), which made the nomination for ‘The 7 Most Endangered’ 2016, proposes a multidisciplinary project aimed at safeguarding and enhancing the site while promoting the sustainable development of the village of Ani Pemza, built in 1926 and located a few hundred metres away, which could serve as a cultural tourism centre, thus contributing to the socioeconomic revitalisation of the area. The Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Armenia, which retains the ownership of the site, has supported the rehabilitation project since its beginning; it gave its high patronage and will participate in all the different phases of its implementation.
The European delegation was comprised of Guy Clausse, former Dean of the European Investment Bank Institute and now Member of the Board of Europa Nostra, Paolo Vitti, Member of the Scientific Council of Europa Nostra, Maria Berza, Member of the Advisory Panel of The 7 Most Endangered programme, and Visnja Kisic, Secretary General of Europa Nostra Serbia. Patrick Donabédian, Professor at the University of Aix-en-Provence (who has directed a multidisciplinary research at the archeological site of Ererouyk over the last six years), Tudor Berza, Geologist, Mariacristina Giambruno, Professor at the Department of Architecture and Urban Studies of the Politecnico di Milano, and Gaianè Casnati, Director of CSDCA, also took part in the mission. Anna Ghazaryan, Senior Specialist at the Ministry of Culture, and Gohar Hovakimyan, Senior Specialist at CSDCA, joined the delegation.
On 19 July, the delegates met with the Minister of Culture Hasmik Poghosyan and the Vice-Ministers Arev Samuelyan and Nerses Ter Vartanyan as well as with the directors and representatives from the main international and local organisations involved in the cultural heriage field, including the World Bank, the Council of Europe, the Asian Development Bank, the IDeA Foundation and NUACA University.
On 20-21 July, the experts visited the site of Ererouyk and the village of Anipemza and meet with the mayor and the inhabitants who share with them the beauty and hardness of living in such a place. After a memorable visit to the capital of Ani from the buffer zone, the delegation was given a guided tour through the historic town of Gyumri where they met with Avetik Melik Sargsyan, Head of Shirak's office for the protection of the Historical Environment and Museums.
On 22 July, following a press conference, the Vice-Minister Arev Samuelyan launched the photo exhibition ‘Ererouyk and Anipemza, memories of the past, daily life and dreams for the future’ at the National Library of Armenia in Yerevan and awarded the winners of this photo competition, namely Lilit Davtyan and the young Artush Avdalyan from Anipemza. The exhibition was shown at the National Library of Armenia until 1 August 2016 and will subsequently be displayed in Anipemza.
The Vice-Minister Samuelyan also opened the forum ‘Cultural Heritage Counts for Armenia: projects, inputs and ideas for the enhancement of Armenian Cultural Heritage’ at the National Library of Armenia. In adtition to all the members of the delegation, representatives from important governmental and non-governmental organisations – including Vache Terteryan, First Deputy Minister of Territorial Administration, Karine Harutyunyan, Deputy Minister of Education and Science, Gagik Galstyan, Rector of NUACA University, Varduhi Sargsyan, Assistant of the Head of Delegation Ambassador from the Delegation of European Union in Armenia, Ani Avagyan, Director of ICOM Armenia, Gagik Gurdjiyan, Director of ICOMOS Armenia, Sarhat Petrosyan, from the Council of Europe office in Yerevan, and Christine Hayrapetyan, Country Representative of the International Committee for the Development of Peoples (CISP) – contributed to the forum. The discussion on research and project models and on collaboration between different institutions dominated the agenda.
A full technical and financial report for the rehabilitation of the site will be prepared and made public by the end of the year.
The expert mission was cofinanced through a crowdfunding campaign launched on a platform specially dedicated to cultural heritage projects (www.dartagnans.fr) to which contributed 30 donors from Italy, France, Switzerland, Armenia, the Netherlands and the United States. The mission also received the support in kind of Salt Sack, ItalGusto and Zorah wines.
A website (www.Ererouyk-Anipemza.eu) to share information on ongoing activities and exchange ideas is under development.
Representatives from Europa Nostra and the European Investment Bank Institute visited the archaeological site of Ererouyk and the village of Anipemza, listed among The 7 Most Endangered heritage sites in Europe in 2016, on 19-23 July. Photo: Courtesy of CSDCA