Monday, 09 December

Adana Flourishes Again; This Time Without Armenians

Let me start off by saying that I will be reporting off and on from Turkey for the next few days. I am with a group of reporters from Armenia that will eventually wind its way back to Armenia by air and ground transport.

We arrived in the city of Adana today, our first stop after Istanbul. Our escort, Ferzan, took us to see some of the sites of Adana, First on the list was the Ulu Cami (The Grand Mosque) complex within a high wall in the old town.

It opened for religious services in 1541 and severely damaged in the 1998 earthquake. It was restored and opened its doors in 2004.

 Now for some history. Adana was captured by forces of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia in 1132. It was taken by Byzantine forces in 1137 but recapture by Armenians around 1170. After a terrible earthquake in 1268, Adana was rebuilt and remained a part of Armenian Cilicia until 1359 when the city was ceded by Constantine III to the Mamluk Sultan of Egypt in a peace deal.

The Mamluks' capture of the city allowed many Turkish families to settle in it. The Ramazanoğlu family, one of the Turkish families brought by the Mamluks, ruled Adana until the Ottomans captured the city.

Our next stop was the Taskopru (Stone Bridge) spanning the Seyhan River. It’s also known as the Justinian Bridge. The inscription indicates that the bridge was built during Roman Empire by the architect Auxentius.  The reason that the name of Justinian I is mentioned relating to the construction period on the inscription is probably the extensive restoration of the bridge done by him later.

Then we were taken to the Sabanci Merkez Mosque. Though not being historical, is the most visited mosque in Adana, as it is one of the largest mosques in the Middle East. The mosque was opened to service in 1998 to a capacity of 28,500 prayers.

We then asked our Turkish organizers to show us something Armenian that might have survived in Adana. They said there was nothing to show.

Steps away from the old Roman bridge is the historical neighborhood of Tepebag, a well to do Armenian district back in the Ottoman era that reflects the Armenian architecture of the city with fine houses, gardens and stone-made schools.

Ferzan noted that there might be some Armenians left in the city but they keep the fact to themselves.

Figures as to these Crypto-Armenians remaining in Adana vary as widely as those figures for Turkey as a whole. Some say there might be up to 2,000 such families in Adana today. There is also a good number of descendents of Armenian children who were given to Muslim families to be fostered in 1915, either by their Armenian parents or by the Ottoman officials. Armenians and Greeks were to constitute half of the population of Adana before 1915.

Armenians were well represented in local manufacturing and trade. They owned paint cotton, cloth, beer and other factories and operated gold, silver, leather and ceramic artisan shops. Armenians also had their own cultural centers, hospitals, theaters and schools. In the 19th century, the city had four churches; 2 Armenian, 1 Greek and 1 Latin.

I wonder if our Turkish escorts even are aware of the historical Armenian presence in Adana and the surrounding countryside; if they were ever taught how the Armenian community was evicted and destroyed in succeeding waves – 1909, 1915 and 1922-23

I would be amiss if I didn’t bring up the fact that Adana is home to a community of around two-thousand British and Americans serving to the Incirlik NATO Air Base.

Recently Armenian Genocide survivors are preparing a legal suit claiming that the base is built on land once owned by local Armenians. Just think of it, a NATO base which helps defend Turkish interests in the region just might have been built on lands confiscated from Armenians killed in 1915 when all of the estimated 20,000 Armenians in the city alone were rounded up and marched out into the Syrian Desert.

Today, Adana is Turkey’s fifth largest city with a population of 1.5 million and noted for its agriculture and a rapidly developing economic base. The major ethnic groups are Turks, Arabs and Kurds, with the latter now comprising almost a third of the population due to massive migration in the 1990s.

We had a chance to meet with the local Association of Young Businessmen and its director Hakan Celik. Last year, Adana boasted exports of around $1billion.

 Celik noted that with a regional population of close to 5 million, Adana’s economy is set to take off even though it still lags behind Istanbul, Izmir and a few other cities.

The young entrepreneur said his Turkish colleagues would like to collaborate with their Armenian counterparts and they regard Armenia as one of their neighbors.

"We see that the Turkish and Armenian governments have their views on history, but we believe that the more relations on a personal level develop the more business ties will develop and we can thus reject those views," Celik noted.

The Turkish businessmen confessed that they knew little about the economic environment in Armenia and whether or not entrepreneurs in Armenian were ready to work with Turks.

Celik added that if the Armenians could "overcome" their preconceived notions about Turks, cooperation in a number of sectors was possible and that this would assist in normalizing relations between the two nations as well.

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Comments (12)
1. Sam11:01 - 4 May, 2011
This is disgusting. These Turks talk about "friendship" and "reconciliation" after inventing Genocide, killing innocent Armenians, destroying our culture, stealing our belongings, and properties and lands. Criminal Turkey must be brought to justice first before anything. As an Armenian, I will say take your fake "friendship" and shove it in the toilet!!!!!
2. shaqar11:34 - 4 May, 2011
տարիներ առաջ մի թուրքի հանդիպեցի , Ադանայից էր, ասում էր , պապերս պատմում էին որ ամբողջ արդյունաբերությունը հայերի ձեռքում էր, ջհուդները նախանձից մեռնում էին, ուզում էին ամեն ինչ անել որ թուրքերին կռվացնեին հայերի հետ, որ հայերից խլեին այդ ամենը: հիմա չկան հայեր, իսկ ամբողջ արդյունաբերությունը ջհուդների ձեռքում է
3. Türkiye12:46 - 4 May, 2011
never saw a loser volk like yours. You start a fight, loose it and afterwards try to fish for compliments instead of gettin over it. No one in Türkiye cares for armenians and their howling cryings. We lost 50 mln Turks in the old Ottoman Lands between 1890 and 1923. Your story is a footnote in Turkish History. A millet who get banged after trying to stab us from the back... ...and still your politicians think they are clever by trying to stab around...
4. chello13:33 - 4 May, 2011
Յառգելի Շաքար, Ինծի կը թուայ որ չես կարդացած յօդուածը:Հրեայ չէ մնացած Ատանա. Ինչի մասին կը խօսի՛՚ս:You sound like so many other misinformed Armenians who have nothing better to poin to the Jews for all the evils that have befell Armenians. Get over it already.
5. martiros13:38 - 4 May, 2011
Hey Turkiye man, I would like to suggest that all you fanatical Turks go back to your ancestral homeland on the plains of Mongolia. The day your hoards stepped over the border was a "Black Day" for scores of people you raped, pillaged, murdered and exploited. Luckily, you and your ilk, like Turkey will pass into history and the Turkish Republic will implode.
6. Sad14:40 - 4 May, 2011
Sad to see mayny Armenians just have hate but nothing else in life. peace help Armenians more than Turkey othwerwise Armenia will be lost in time without any neighbours
7. Miles18:03 - 4 May, 2011
Turkey has lot less chance of imploding than, let's say, Armenia. Turkey has successfully sustained itself in a rather isolated way till the 2000's while Armenia bleeds population. Some of these Armenian emigrants even choose to settle in Istanbul since there is an established community and churches and schools inexistence. Turks are not fully educated in their responsibility of their massacres. On the other hand, greeks and armenians love to play victim and cry wolf. They never like to mention that kosova and Bosnian massacres were modeled on Greek and Armenian cbetes wholesale massacres of Muslim villages to create a homogeneous homeland. Thessalonians burnt their Jewish and Turkish quarters in 1917 conveniently to create a Greek city. There are war cemeteries in France and England dedicated to their Armenian and Greek troops, their proxies. The whole picture changes in the light of this info.
8. Mark18:03 - 4 May, 2011
Turks kill Christians by the millions and then demand to be let into the Christian European Union. This is gall or just stupidity? One more thing: Turks are crude.
9. Armen18:21 - 4 May, 2011
Free Turkish-occupied Western Armenia and Cilicia!
10. Armenian19:23 - 4 May, 2011
Comment...Sad take the tumor out of your head and the cataracts out of your eyes so you can see the is a Republic of Armenia and Artsakh (Nagorno Karapakh Republic) - Whether you like that or not it is there - and we are flourishing, growing and the country will become better and better, YOU WATCH out as Turkey, because the tide of Islamism vs. Secularism, your Kurdish problem and your murderer history of over 1000 years will wall up to engulf you. You are Nazis and fascists anyway, like "Turkiye" up there, dumb brained street kids who don't even know your own history. Nothing will turn us away from our rights and you and your kind will stay our enemies, because you don't even qualify as a human who understands the pain of others.
11. Hayastan19:30 - 4 May, 2011
Comment...SAD, We have HATE and you have DENIALISM, as you are proud to deny the Armenian Genocide, I am proud to hate you for doing so and thus adding pain to already 1000 years of pain in our hearts. Do you want to change this picture? Stop denying your history of murder and Genocide, and my hate will die once your denialism dies in you.
12. Miles00:04 - 5 May, 2011
To the haters: it really is unimportant if you love or hate the turks,since the average Turk couldn't care less and is uneducates about the demise of the Armenians. The hatred spewing from Armenians only stops moderate Turks considering the other side's tragedy, which decreases the chances of poverty stricken, landlocked, Russian dominated armenia s survival. Armenians never mention the 1919 Russia occupation of their newly independent nation and the soviet horrors because they rely on Russia against te Azeris. So it's all selective and emotional and fullof bias. This also has nothing to do with Christianity as Turks were fighting Kurds and Arabs simultaneously. Not to forget that Christian nations were murdering each other en masse in WWI. Turks retaliated to the proxies of Russia France and Germany by massacring the Armenia and Greeks, who were equally busy busting their Muslim neighbors. If Serbs were butchering muslims to purify their homeland, does anyone believe armenians amd greeks were handing out candy to the Turks? When the Czechs and eastern europeans exiled all the Sudenland Germans mostly ti their death, the whole world justified this deportation with German responsibility in WWII. Same goes for Armenians and Greeks of turkey. There was ethnic cleansing on both sides. If Turks committed them so did the Greeks and Armenians. Turks just happened to be more numerous.
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