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The founders of the Rabat fortress in the Armenian-populated region Akhaltsikhe were Armenians of the Chalcedonian creed, Samvel Karapetyan, Head of the Research on Armenian Architecture NGO, told ArmInfo.
"The fortress was founded right after the town had been founded; one can even say that the town was founded around the fortress. The fortress was called "Akhaltsikhe", which is translated from Georgian as "The New Town". Armenians were the first owners of the fortress, however, in XV-XVI cc. the fortress was seized by Ottoman Turkey and within three centuries the fortress turned into the center of one of Ottoman Turkey's vilayets, which was called the Akhaltsikhe vilayet. It was then that a mosque was built in the center of the Armenian fortress. In 1828 the fortress was seized by tzarist Russia and
remained under the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church until the establishment of the Soviet power, afterwards it turned into a museum and has preserved that status until very recently", Karapetyan said. However, the expert said that he is unaware of the fate of the medieval construction after its recent renovation by the Georgian authorities.
When commenting on the oppositional Sardarapat Movement's statement about the inexpediency of Armenian world-known singer Charles Aznavour's concert in Rabat fortress in front of the Turkish mosque, Karapetyan said that such statements are not tactical. "I think that it is for Aznavour to decide where to give a concert", he said.
To note, Charles Aznavour and 22 musicians have visited Georgia at the invitation of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili. On August 16 Aznavour is expected to attend the opening of the renovated medieval fortress in Akhaltsikhe, the homeland of Aznavour's ancestors, and to give a concert there.
However, this fact has caused the indignation of a number of Armenian NGOs. In particular, Sardarapat Movement said that the Turkish-Georgian tandem misappropriates the Armenian cultural and historical heritage of Javakhq. The movement says that the fortress has been renovated with the financial support of Turkey and is called a Turkish fortress. In addition, the NGOs of Samtskhe-Javakheti released a statement calling on the world known singer Charles Aznavour to refuse giving a concert on August 16, on the day of opening of the renovated Akhaltsikhe fortress and an adjacent Turkish
mosque in Javakhq. "The Armenians of Javakhq qualify the upcoming event as the Turkish-Georgian tandem's plot against them. The Georgian authorities are trying to involve Aznavour, making advantage of his unawareness of the situation and his sincere desire to give a concert in his ancestors' homeland", they said.
Nevertheless, according to the Georgian mass media, the complex has been renovated with the financial support of the Georgian Government, which allocated nearly 15 mln USD for that purpose. The Georgian sources also stress that there is not only a Turkish mosque in the territory of the fortress, but also an Armenian church, a synagogue, as well as Catholic and Orthodox churches.