THE MINISTER OF CULTURE CONDEMNS SAUDI ARABIA FOR PULLING DOWN ECYAD CASTLE
The Minister of Culture, Istemihan Talay has announced that the Ministry has protested on behalf of Turkey to UNESCO's National Committee, because Saudi Arabia has pulled down Ecyad Castle, with the the purpose of constructing a hotel anda business center in its place.
Minister Talay said, "Ecyad Castle is to be considered one of the cultural heritages of Mankind, and its destruction is no different from pulling down of he Budha Monuments in Afghanistan. We have appealed to UNESCO's National Committee of Turkey in order to draw world attention to this incident. I condem the pulling down of Ecyad Castle as an act of barbarism .
The castle had been under threat for about a year. Although we had been assured by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that such an act would not take place, we have now been informed that the castle is completely destroyed.
Speaking on behalf of the Turkish State and Nation, after such destruction, it seems difficult to consider Saudi Arabia in a friendly light. This is not only disrespect to history, but is also a move to eliminate Turkish culture from their world and history.
Our own country has hosted many civilizations throughout history and has always respected and protected the cultural heritages of these peoples, no matter if they are in the World Heritage list or not. Therefore, it is our right to expect the same sensitivity from all other countries.
As well known, the Budha Monuments in Afghanistan were not on the World's Cultural Heritage List, yet, their destruction by the Talaban Regime was protested worldwide. This incident disturbs us. We expect Saudi Arabia to respect and protect the few structures that remain of the Ottoman Empire. I expect every individual living in the world to be sensitive to the protection of the historical structures that are our common heritage."
DEVELOPMENT OF THE INCIDENT
* According to an article, "Destruction of Ottoman Heritage" in a newspaper of 23rd February, 2001, the Ministry of Culture has asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for an investigation on 26th February, 2001.
* The Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent a reply to the Ministry of Culture on 16th March, 2001, indicating that; Such an article had also been published in the Saudi Arabian newspaper "Arab News" and the chargé d'affaires of the Saudi Arabian Embassy was invited to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 28th February, 2001
Turkey's sensitivity and concern on the subject was expressed, Ecyad Castle's being a Turkish-Saudi common historical and cultural heritage. Therefore the possible distruction of it would disturb the Turkish public.
In the letter, it is clearly stated that these reviews had been sent as a note to the Saudi authorities, and also been expressed to the Ambassador of Saudi Arabia during his visit to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 13th March, 2001. Also in the letter, it is stated that Saudi authorities had not mentioned any official project for destroying the castle.
* At the board of directors of UNESCO National Committee of Turkey on 5th April, 2001 held in Ankara, it was stated; That the board was disturbed by the news of the pulling down of Ecyad Castle located in Mecca, which is a part of the Ottoman cultural heritage, that hadbeen constructed in the 18th Century, and replacing it with a hotel and business center. The demolishing of the castle would not only harm Saudi cultural heritage but also be harmful to the cultural heritage of Turkey and the Islamic World; That Saudi authorities had signed the agreement on the protection of historical and natural heritage in 1972 and should therefact accordingly; That Saudi authorities should be responsible of protecting and transfering the cultural heritages within the Saudi Arabian borders to the coming generations.
* The Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent a letter to the Ministry of Culture on 12th July,2001, stating; That the newspapers 'Arab News' and 'Saudi,' published in Saudi Arabia had written that it had been decided not to pull down the castle, and that the Saudi authorities approved the news.
STILL, SAUDI ARABIA PULLED DOWN ECYAD CASTLE...
* According to the information in newspapers refering to the castle being demolished , The Ministry of Culture sent protests to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the UNESCO National Committe of Turkey on 6th January,2002, to have an official Protest made by UNESCO.
* The Ministry of Culture is disturbed and CONDEMNS Saudi Arabian authorities for not keeping their word and continuing with their policy of demolishing Ottoman heritages