MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The Istanbul Court ruled that Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan must pay 100,000 Turkish Lira (nearly $40,000) to artist Mehmet Aksoy in compensation for psychological damage caused when Erdogan called his sculpture, symbolizing Armenian-Turkish friendship, a "monstrosity,” the Hurriyet newspaper said Tuesday.
In January 2011, then Prime Minister Erdogan expressed disapproval of the statue during a visit to the Turkish city of Kars. He referred to it as a monstrous sculpture, and said it should not be next to the tomb of the Muslim scholar Hasan Harakani.
On June 14, 2011, the statue was taken down by the Kars Municipality.
Aksoy criticized Erdogan’s remarks, adding that the sculpture carries a message of friendship and peace. With that, he filed a lawsuit against the Turkish president.
The two concrete figures reaching out to each other were erected in 2006 in Kars, in northeastern Turkey. Also known as the “Monument to Humanity”, it was meant to promote reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia, but was never completed.
There are currently no diplomatic relations between Turkey and Armenia, and the border between the two countries has been closed since 1993.
The strained relations between the countries are largely due to Turkey's open support for Azerbaijan's position in the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute, as well as its unwillingness to recognize the killings of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire as genocide.