30 July 2004

Foreign Minister Oskanian Receives Representatives of Land and Culture

"Land and Culture" Organization is known also in the Middle East, particularly in Kessab, Syria, where its is engaged in the renovation of some Armenian traditional buildings. When the members of this Organization first appeared in Kessab (the Armenian town located in the north-east of Lattakia, with its ten Armenian villages of total population of two thousand) the locals were surprised at their mission, but what they do now is well known to the villagers and summer vacationers. Their main aim is to preserve the original architectural character of Kessab and its surroundings. Of course it is difficult to work in an environment where modern building constructions are growing like mushrooms.

We would like to congratulate the member of these organization for their effort.
Also, we would like to ask them to organize some seminars or workshops to teach  Syrian Armenians how to get involved in the process of preserving their architectural heritage. Some of the buildings that belong to Armenians in Syria date centuries back  and badly need restoration, without harming the original materials of their structure. Constructions carrying Armenian stamp are scattered in many part of Syria, including places like Qamishli, Gnemieh, Aramo, Lattakia, etc. There are many Syrian Armenian civil engineers graduated from the local or international universities, but only few of them have the much needed experience, talent and inclination to safeguard the centuries old heritage. "Land and Culture" Organization can coordinate with local bodies to fulfill this highly valued mission.

The present day condition of some Armenian plots is not encouraging. For example a traditional house in Kessab, which was donated to the Church few decades ago by a prominent physician, for the purpose of hosting a museum of popular arts, has been turned into a modern-day summer resthouse of the Head of the Church. Part of the building has been altered in a way that it could not be identified any more as a piece of artistic or historic value. Only now some of the residents of Kessab are realizing that their passivness has led the way to such ignorance. It is a fact that Syrian Armenians have build many buildings serving their communities around Syria in the past two decades, but preserving old structures is completely another domain and should be mastered before endulging in any kind of future construction plans. Learning this the difficult way can cost us losing forever some of our valued properties. AZAD-HYE.

Twenty young people from all over the world who have volunteered to serve with the Land and Culture organization visited the Ministry Yesterday.

After a brief tour of the Ministry, the Land and Culture volunteers (of whom there are 75 this year, from Canada, France,Georgia, India, Lebanon, Iran) were led into the office of the Foreign Minister.

Minister Oskanian commended the patriotic mission of the organization and stressed the importance of sustainability of their endeavors. He stressed that the best way to contribute to the development of a national culture is to sustain close ties with historical motherland. Minister Oskanian welcomed programs like Land and Culture and other youth programs which offer young Diaspora Armenians a chance to live and work in Armenia, as interns or volunteers.

During the meeting, Minister Oskanian responded to questions and briefly commented on aspects of Armenia's foreign relations, its relations with neighbour countries and key players in the region, the status of the Karabakh conflict resolution process, and Armenia-Diaspora relations.

Land and Culture was founded in 1977 by a group of young French Armenians. Subsequently, the organisation established branches in the USA, UK, Armenia and other countries. Land and Culture started to work in Armenia a year after the Gyumri earthquake of 1988.

Source: Press and Information Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia, Press Release of 28 July 2004

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