Biden Recognizes Atrocities Against Armenians as Genocide
Apr 25 2021
'President Biden spoke today with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, conveying his interest in a constructive bilateral relationship with expanded areas of cooperation and effective management of disagreements, ' the White House said.
"We remember the lives of all those who died in the Ottoman-era Armenian genocide and recommit ourselves to preventing such an atrocity from ever again occurring", Biden said.
US presidents for decades have acknowledged Remembrance Day to mark the events of 1915 to 1923 but have avoided using the term "genocide" to sidestep alienating Turkey.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, center, attends a memorial service at the monument to the victims of mass killings by Ottoman Turks, to commemorate the 106th anniversary of the massacre, in Yerevan, Armenia, Saturday, April 24, 2021.
Cavusoglu said Saturday in a statement that Biden's recognition "distorts the historical facts, will never be accepted in the conscience of the Turkish people, and will open a deep wound that undermines our mutual trust and friendship".
Despite decades of pressure from the US Armenian community, successive US presidents have skirted the genocide controversy due to worries about a rupture with Turkey which has steadfastly rejected the assertion.
"Over the decades Armenian immigrants have enriched the United States in countless ways, but they have never forgotten the tragic history", Biden said. We affirm the history. He argued when making the campaign pledge a year ago that failing to call the atrocities against the Armenian people a genocide would pave the way for future mass atrocities.
Turkey insists that the killings and expulsions of ethnic Armenians in what was then the Ottoman Empire were not genocide but a result of the wider conflict in World War I.
Turkey, which emerged as a secular republic from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire, acknowledges that 300,000 Armenians may have died but strongly rejects that it was genocide, saying they perished in strife and starvation in which many Turks also died.
Ties between Ankara and Washington have been strained over issues ranging from Turkey's purchase of Russian S-400 air defense systems - over which it was the target of US sanctions - to policy differences in Syria, human rights and a court case targeting Turkey's majority state-owned Halkbank. The two also agreed to hold a bilateral meeting at the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Brussels in June.
Israel's Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid praised the move, saying that it is "an important moral statement by President Biden".
But Biden, whose call to Erdogan to inform him of the genocide recognition was their first conversation since the United States leader took office three months ago, has signaled he hopes for limited diplomatic impact.
In response to the United States recognition, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued an announcement saying "Israel recognizes the awful suffering and the tragedy of the Armenian people". "But this is the only way towards reconciliation and to lasting peace between countries", the MEP said.
The US Congress in 2019 voted overwhelmingly to recognize the Armenian genocide, but the Trump administration made clear that the official US line had not changed.
"This principled stand represents a powerful setback to Turkey's century-long obstruction of justice for this crime, and its ongoing hostility and aggression against the Armenian people", he said.