BERLIN — What a night for a party!
Though not of the same magnitude as the hurricanes that recently ravaged several states and Puerto Rico, the storm winds and rain that swept across northern Germany on October 5 were hefty enough to interrupt all rail transportation into Berlin and to paralyze subway and streetcar traffic in the nation’s capital. As I was one of the many hundreds of people stranded by the storm, I unfortunately could not reach Berlin and, sadly, missed the festivities at the Brandenburg Federal State Agency there to celebrate 25 years of diplomatic relations between the Republic of Armenia and Germany. But the storm did not dampen spirits at the gathering.
By all accounts, it was a wonderful celebration. Ambassador Ashot Smbatyan, who together with Brandenburg’s Minister-President Dr. Dietmar Woidke, hosted the ceremony, welcomed the numerous guests for an evening of celebration, reflection and anticipation of future developments. Music and art framed the event, along with a fine cuisine.
“Twenty-five years ago the Republic of Armenia and the Federal Republic of Germany established diplomatic relations — again,” said Rosa Eisen in her program notes. “Again,” because the two countries had in fact had relations in the brief period between 1918 and 1920, of the Armenian Republic. The first Armenian ambassador to Germany during those two years, she explained, was James Greenfield. Then, in the wake of the October Revolution and the establishment of the Soviet Union, a new era began. In 1992, following independence, Armenia therefore re-established these, among many other, bilateral relations.
A Quarter Century of Shared History
Eisen is a most appropriate person to talk about this history, because, as she recounted, “I am also a former Soviet citizen,” one who was raised in that culture but has lived in Germany for the past quarter century. As an artist, she has documented that history in photography, and opened an exhibition of her works there in the halls of the governments of Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, which runs until October 15. Among the historic photographs on display are those showing the two foreign ministers who signed the documents for renewed relations in 1992, Hans-Dietrich Genscher and Raffi Hovhannisyan. Other familiar faces caught by her camera were those of Helmut Kohl and the late Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin I, Levon Ter-Petrosian, Joachim Gauck and Serzh Sargsyan, Robert Kocharian, Edward Nalbandian, Norbert Lammert and others. One particularly significant photo shows Kohl with the Catholicos, another captures the historic day when the Bundestag adopted a resolution to recognize the Armenian Genocide, in June 2016. She has documented the histories of the two countries in photographs of historic buildings as well as typical landscapes with ancient churches and mountain ranges.