Igdir

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Igdir (Armenian: Իգդիր (Igtr/Իգդըր, Ightir/Իղդիր, Ighdir/Իղտիր); Russian: Игдир; Persian: ایگدیر; Kurdish: Îdir; Turkish: Iğdır) is the capital of the province of the same name located in northeastern Turkey. Internationally, Igdir is bounded by Armenia to the north and Iran to the southeast. A strip of territory transferred to Turkey in the Treaty of Kars also allows the province to share a small but significant border with Azerbaijan's exclave of Nakhichevan. It is located 40km southwest of Yerevan, on the Yerevan-Bayazit road, on the right bank of the Arax river, on a plain. As it lies southwest of the Armenian border, the area of the Igdir province is today considered part of Western Armenia. However, because it was initally part of Russian Armenia it can also be classified as part of Eastern Armenia.

The Igdir region became a seperate province of Turkey in 1991, occupying an area of 3,593 km². It is one of Turkey's most sparsely populated provinces with only 168,634 inhabitants according the Turkish 2000 census, most of whom are Kurds and Azerbaijanis. Armenians, once the majority ethnic group, are no longer known to live in the area. By contrast, the Armavir Marz located in Armenia just north of the province holds 255,861 residents and has an area of 1,242 km² (roughly 2,350 fewer kilometres squared than Igdir).

Igdir is historically and culturally significant to the Armenians as the location of Mount Ararat, several Urartian rock monuments, and the Caravanserai of Zor, believed to have been built by an Armenian architect named Ashot in either the 13th or 14th century. The historic ruins of the Armenian Church of Zor were also located in this area as well, though, nothing remains of them today. The historic cities of Aralix (Արալիխ; now known as Aralık) and Koghb (Կոգհբ; now known as Tuzluca) are also located in the area. Contrary to some sources, Igdir is not the same as the ancient Armenian city of Tsolakert (Տսոլակերտ) because the latter is placed by experts in Tashpur (Դաշբուռուն) and Karakuyunlu provinces. It is incorrect to similarly place Igdir in the historic Artyunk province (հնում հիշատակվող Արդյունք գ—ին).

Contents

History

The area that is now Igdir was historically part of the Masyatsotn district of the Ararat province within Greater Armenia. Igdir is known to have existed in the 15th century and after numerous fighting between the Ottoman and Persian Empires, it eventually became part of the latter in 1746. With the conclusion of the final Russo-Persian War in 1828, it fell into the possession of the Russian Empire by virtue of the Treaty of Turkmanchay. Under Russian administrative authority, it was the center of the Surmalu region (Սուրմալուի գավ) of the Armenian Oblast (Հայաստանի ոբլաստ; later known as the Erivan Governorate). From 1829—32, it had about 700 households. At the end of the 19th century there were 550 Armenian and 70 Turkish households, with over 10,000 Armenian residents at the beginning of the 20th century. Some of the Armenians were refugees from Pars-Kahayk Khoy (Պարս-կահայքի Խոյ) and Salmast (Սալմաստ) regions in 1829. The population worked in orchards, crafts, and trade. There were three churches, one S. Sahak (ս Սահակ), արական և իգական վարժարաններ.

In February 1918, it became part of the Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic and on May 28 part of the Democratic Republic of Armenia. In 1919 and 1920, Igdir was occupied by Turkey and its majority Armenian population was liquidated. According to Melville Carter, an eyewitness from National Geographic, one Armenian refugee screamed "We are dying, all dying!" in "a kind of delirium." Carter also reported that "though we told him we had not bread, it became necessary to remove him from the road, where he had thrown himself face downward under the car’s wheels to prevent our departure." [1] The Soviet Union officially ceded the entire Surmalu region to Turkey in the Treaty of Kars and it has remained a part of Turkey since.

On October 5, 1999, a museum and memorial were opened in Igdir commemorating the alleged massacres of Turks by Armenians (representing Turkey's position of denial of the Armenian Genocide). The 45-meter high monument consists of five crossed swords and, according to a spokesperson of the governor of Igdir, it is also visible from the Armenian capital Yerevan: "Whenever the Armenians look towards their holy Mount Ararat," he said, "they will see our monument." Turkish President Süleyman Demirel as well as Turkey's entire military elite including chief of staff Hüseyin Kivrikoğlu were in attendance. Minister of State Ramazan Mirzaoğlu stated in his address that between 1915 and 1929, "Armenians killed almost 80,000 people in Igdir." [2]

In 2005, famous Turkish publisher and human rights protector Ragip Zarakolu's wrote an article in which he posed an interesting question. "Not being an Ottoman territory, the region of Igdir was not included in the 'National Charter'," he wrote. "Accusing Armenia of Denying Kars Treaty, does not Turkey provoke it to refuse recognizing Igdir a Turkish territory?" (AZG Armenian Daily #197 01/11/2005)

Noteworthy people from Igdir

References

This article contains content from the Encyclopedia of Armenian Geographic Names, used here under the GNU Free Documentation License.

External links




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