By Armen ZakarianGermany’s ambassador in Ankara, Wolf-Ruthart Born, did not suggest that Armenia has territorial claims to Turkey as was claimed by the Turkish press, his Yerevan-based colleague said on Tuesday.
Two Armenian dailies reported last week that Born has been quoted by a Turkish newspaper as making such claims during a recent visit to Kars, a city near the Armenian border. He was said to have told local officials that to his knowledge, the Armenian constitution considers Kars and the surrounding region to be a part of Armenia.
“Ambassador Born did not say such a thing in his contacts with the press,” Germany’s new ambassador to Armenia, Heike-Renate Peitsch, told RFE/RL. “He was wrongly quoted in the Turkish press and he has demanded a correction.”
Post-Soviet Armenia has never laid claim to any territory in modern-day Turkey through its constitution nor otherwise. Many Turkish politicians feel that such demands will emerge if Ankara recognizes the 1915 genocide of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire.
President Robert Kocharian sought to allay such fears in a 2001 interview with a prominent Turkish journalist. “Genocide recognition does not create the legal bases to allow Armenia to present certain demands before Turkey,” Kocharian said at the time. “I am surprised that Turkish attorneys themselves have not provided the Turkish government with such counsel and such an assessment.”
Peitsch was speaking in Yerevan after a meeting with Prime Minister Andranik Markarian. She said both sides agreed that while the relationship between Germany and Armenia is “excellent,” it should be deepened further in the economic and cultural spheres.
“Germany is Armenia’s second largest donor after the United States,” the envoy said.
(Photo by the German embassy in Turkey: Wolf-Ruthart Born.)