The preservation of cultural/historic resources in international border areas can have far reaching consequences beyond the mere preservation of historic sites. They have the potential to act as “olive branches” between countries which have experienced long term conflicts and negative cultural memories. In the case of the Kars Province, in the northeastern portion of Turkey, this area was occupied by various ethnic groups and empires (Armenian, Russian, Byzantine, Ottoman etc.) that were present before the establishment of the Republic of Turkey. Tensions in this area are still persisting as the border between Turkey and Armenia, including the Kars border-crossing, has been closed by Turkey in protest to the occupation by Armenia of Nagorno-Karabakh which was previously under the sovereignty of Azerbaijan. These monuments, when they exist along national borders particularly carry very strong possibilities to be vehicles of reconciliation that will lead to long term improved economic, social and political conditions between countries which have experienced negative cultural memories. This paper will investigate the efforts of historic preservation in the Kars Province in Turkey by local governments and non-profit organizations - NGOs and its potential as an informal diplomatic or para-diplomatic vehicle between Turkey, Armenia and Russia.
Key words: Historical/Cultural values, historic preservation, tourism, border area conflicts, para-diplomacy, political geography, conflict resolution, Kars, Turkey.
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