(Reuters) - Armenian President Robert Kocharian urged Turkey to abandon its 11-year blockade of the southern Caucasus country, a German paper reported on Friday.
Turkey shut its border with the tiny ex-Soviet republic in 1993 to show solidarity with oil-rich Azerbaijan, which is in a long and bitter territorial dispute with Armenia.
"Turkey is blockading Armenia, one can only call that harassment," the Berlin-based daily Die Welt quoted Kocharian as saying in an interview to be published on Friday.
Relations between Armenia and Turkey have long been strained because Armenia says some 1.5 million of their people were slaughtered by Ottoman Turks between 1915 and 1923. Turkey denies accusations of genocide.
Kocharian told the paper Armenia would not insist Turkey admit to genocide for talks on normalizing relations to proceed. "For us, the recognition of the genocide of Armenians in 1915 by Turks is certainly very important, but it will never be a condition for the development of bilateral relations," Die Welt quoted him as saying.
"If Ankara recognized this fact, it would be a significant step forward in the direction of normalizing relations," he told the paper.