Azeri paper chides German envoy for remarks during visit to Turkish town

Ekspress, Baku
26 Aug 04


Text of Hasan Agacan's report by Azerbaijani newspaper Ekspress on 26
August headlined "German ambassador's strange diplomacy" and subheaded
"Considering Kars to be Armenian territory, the German ambassador
advises Azerbaijan 'to give up Nagornyy Karabakh'"

The German ambassador has spoken as an illiterate child in Kars
[Turkey]. Wolf-Ruthart Born asked: "Have you looked at the Armenian
Constitution? You can see the boundaries of Kars on the map of
Armenia." He believes that Azerbaijan should give up Nagornyy Karabakh
for the opening of the Turkish-Armenian border.

According to a statement by the German embassy in Turkey, ambassador
Wolf-Ruthart Born left Ankara for the Kars region "in order to get
closely acquainted with the developments in the region" the day before
yesterday [24 August] and met local municipal head Israfil Cakaz.

The meeting was held in an atmosphere of "mutual understanding".
[Turkish] Tercuman newspaper reported yesterday that during the
meeting, Cakaz had asked the German ambassador to exert the "necessary
influence" on official Ankara to open the Turkish-Armenian border as
soon as possible.

[Turkish] Havadis quoted Cakaz as saying: "The border between Turkey
and Armenia should be opened soon. Since the border with Armenia is
closed, Kars is one of the economically and socially backward regions
in Turkey. Our people are unemployed and businessmen are worried. We
want the border with Armenia to be opened."

In response to his appeal, the German ambassador made an unexpected
statement, which has already provoked a big scandal in Ankara: "As far
as I know, Kars and the territory surrounding it are Armenian lands
according to the Armenian Constitution. As for the opening of the
border, the conflict between Azerbaijan and Nagornyy Karabakh should
be resolved for the resolution of this problem. If Azerbaijan gives
up Nagornyy Karabakh and recognizes its independence, the
Turkish-Armenian border will open."

We contacted the Turkish Foreign Ministry in connection with the
incident. The ministry's general press and media department said that
they were clarifying the statements made by the German ambassador to
Turkey, Wolf-Ruthart Born, during his Kars visit. "It is still
premature to express any position. Because all the reports are being
spread by the media. The ministry will express its official position
after contacting the embassy and obtaining the necessary
information. We hope that the German ambassador to our country has not
used expressions that are in any form against our territorial
integrity."

The German embassy in Turkey has refused to make any comment in this
regard.

Turkey sets Yerevan's withdrawal from the occupied Azerbaijani lands
as a precondition for the opening of the border with Armenia. The
German ambassador to Turkey understood the situation the other way
round and his illiteracy cannot but cause surprise.