German-Armenian architect Albert Sevintz: “For me, Armenia is the land with which I have a unique and inexplicable soulful relationship”
Hayern Aysor’s correspondent sat down for an interview with Dusseldorf-based Armenian architect Albert Sevintz at the RA Ministry of Diaspora.
Karine Avagyan: Welcome to Armenia, dear compatriot! I am interested in the origin of your last name. Are you from Zangezur?
Albert Sevintz: Thank you for your greetings. The origin of my last name has nothing to do with that beautiful mountainous land. It was given to me by the Turkish government 18 years ago. I was born in Istanbul. My father’s family is from Mardin, and my mother’s-from Kaiseri.
Karine Avagyan: Mr. Sevintz, when and why did you settle in Germany?
Albert Sevintz: In 1978, at the age of 18, I left Istanbul due to the grave situation in Turkey. Besides, at that age, you want to see the world. I chose to move to the city of Herme, which is located in Rour (an old industrial area).
Karine Avagyan: You were 18, with many dreams and future plans…What did you get out of your move to Germany? Were you able to pursue a higher education, study and acquire professional skills?
Albert Sevintz: When I was living in Istanbul, I learned to make jewelry from my father. In Germany, I studied architecture, acquired skills and worked by my profession.
Karine Avagyan: Mr. Sevintz, being an Armenian architect, have you studied the history of Armenian architecture? Do your works feature elements of Armenian architecture?
Albert Sevintz: I am familiar with Armenian architecture, but not in much detail and professionally. I usually use the stones that are used in Armenian architcture, including tuff, granite and basalt…
Karine Avagyan: Do the people in Dusseldorf and the country know about Armenian architecture?
Albert Sevintz: They do, but not many people. They mainly like the architecture of old Armenian churches.
Karine Avagyan: Do you visit Armenia often? If it is not a secret, could you please tell us the main purpose of your visit?
Albert Sevintz: I visit Armenia four to five times a year. I was here three months ago and visited the Ministry of Diaspora for the first time. During my first visit, I had a meeting with the Minister of Diaspora and was introduced to the programs of the Ministry. We might collaborate in the future. I visit Armenia for construction.
Karine Avagyan: Mr. Sevintz, do you like the external structure of Armenian architecture today? Do you like the new buildings or the old ones?
Albert Sevintz: I actually don’t see a big difference between the old and new buildings because the modern buildings are a reflection of the old buildings.
Karine Avagyan: Do you plan on living in Germany all your life, or do you plan on returning and settling in Armenia someday?
Albert Sevintz: I work on construction in Gyumri and northern Armenia, and I will have more projects. I do them to help and provide my assistance.
Karine Avagyan: Mr. Sevintz, you don’t speak Armenian. Do your wife and children speak Armenian at home?
Albert Sevintz: They all speak Armenian. My wife is an Armenian and speaks in Eastern Armenian.
Karine Avagyan: Are you aware of the “What are YOU doing for Karabakh?” pan-Armenian movement launched by the RA Ministry of Diaspora?
Albert Sevintz: The Minister told me about the movement. I don’t know a lot about it, but I have a good impression and welcome the initiative.
Karine Avagyan: Is it likely for you to help Artsakh with your construction projects?
Albert Sevintz: It is definitely likely and possible!
Karine Avagyan: Let’s get back to your childhood and teenage years that you spent in Istanbul. What and whom do you remember? What and who left the greatest impression on you? Who is the person who played a huge role in your life?
Albert Sevintz: This might come as a surprise, but my great-grandfather, Vordik Gulbenkian left a deep trace in my heart and soul. I never knew him and have simply heard good things about him. Perhaps that is the brightest and the most pleasant memory of my childhood.
Karine Avagyan: Of course, it is touching, Mr. Sevintz…Is there any Armenian song that you love and sometimes sing? I am referring to the song of your soul…
Albert Sevintz: I have sung in an Armenian choir in Germany for many years. I love to sing, and the song of my soul is “Ter Voghormea”.
Karine Avagyan: You live in a country where being punctual and demanding are clearly marked attributes of the nation. We Armenians often use the expression “German punctuality”. Wasn’t it hard for you to “become a German?”
Albert Sevintz: In regard to punctuality, I am more German than the Germans.
Karine Avagyan: Do the Germans know you more as a good person or as a good specialist?
Albert Sevintz: I might not give that right of an answer to this question either. They probably know as both a good person and as a good specialist.
Karine Avagyan: There are about 3,000,000 Turks living in Germany. Have you ever had any contact with a Turk? What kind of relationship have you had with them?
Albert Sevintz: There are many Turks working at my construction site. We have simple relations. They know I am Armenian, and my position on the Turkish government is also clear to them.
Karine Avagyan: You were born in Istanbul and live in Germany. What do Armenia and the Homeland mean to you?
Albert Sevintz: For me, Armenia is the land with which I have a unique and inexplicable soulful relationship.
Interview by Karine Avagyan