German Government Hands Ottoman Era Files to Armenia

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Germany on Tuesday handed over to the Armenian government copies of its archives on the Ottoman Empire dating back to the beginning of the century when over one million Armenia’s were massacred at the hands of Ottoman Turks. The move was in response to Yerevan’s return last year of its share of German art trophies–confiscated by the Soviet troops after the World War II.

At a ceremony in the presidential palace in Yerevan–Ambassador Karolla Muller-Holtkemper gave President Robert Kocharian 56 volumes of copies of documen’s–collected by the German diplomatic missions in Istanbul from 1889 to 1920.

The materials are in the form of photographic film cut into slides.

"We relate this event to Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian’s effective visit to Germany last May," the German embassy in Yerevan said in a statement. Oskanian returned 575 old German man’scripts which had been kept in the Armenian Academy of Sciences since 1948. The statement praised Kocharian for taking the "noble decision."

The files may shed more light on the 1915 genocide of Armenia’s in the Ottoman Turkey–Germany’s major ally during the World War I. Ankara insists that the mass killings and deportations did not constitute a genocide. The current Armenian government has promised to raise the issue in its dealings with Turkey–with which Armenia has no diplomatic relations.

The German’statement said the archival materials are "important for Armenia" and "enables Armenian historians to carry out [their] overall research and analysis."

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