The municipal council in Kars has decided to demolish a statue in the province that was the cause of controversy last month after the prime minister described it as a “monstrosity.”
The decision was taken with a vote of 19 to four. The members of the council from the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) voted for the demolition of the statue while members from the Republican People’s Party (CHP) opposed its demolition.
The “Monument to Humanity” was erected to commemorate the Ottoman soldiers who froze to death 96 years ago during a military operation against Russia. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan described the statue as a “monstrosity,” drawing an angry reaction from opponents and the sculptor, who said his work bears a deep anti-war message.
The Kars Municipality plans to set up a technical commission to make necessary preparations for the demolition of the statue, which is expected to be completed in a month. The municipality plans to open a park for the province’s residents in lieu of the statue.
Kars Mayor Nevzat Bozkuş said the statue was erected in the area without required permission from the Supreme Council of Monuments, and the council decided to take action regarding the statue on Jan. 6. “We did not discuss the nature of the statue. The law requires it to be demolished,” he noted.
The sculptor is, however, strongly opposed to the demolition decision. He said he would “stand in front of the statue against demolition workers” to protect the statue if necessary. He also said his lawyer, Turgut Kazan, will file a lawsuit against the Kars Municipality’s decision to demolish the statue.
According to the sculptor, Mehmet Aksoy, he obtained the required permission from the Supreme Council of Monuments to erect the statue.
“Most of what is being said about the statue is not correct. Did I come from space and erect the statue without showing it to anyone? They claim that I did not obtain the required permission for the statue. That’s not correct; I have all the required permission. They have decided to demolish the statue, but my lawyer will appeal the decision. That’s not a pile-up of stones. I do not know why all of this is happening. They will shatter the statue and Turkey will be disgraced before the entire world,” he stated.
The statue of two 30-meter-tall concrete figures reaching out to each other was built on a rise above Kars, just 40 kilometers from the Armenian border, in 2008.