President Biden Recognizes Armenian Massacre by Ottoman Empire as ‘Genocide’

France 24

 

President Joe Biden on Saturday recognized the Armenian genocide, a landmark step in defiance of Turkey, which strongly rejects the label for the 1915-1917 killings by the Ottoman Empire. Washington tried nevertheless to calm tensions by not "casting blame" on Ankara.

"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 in a statement, becoming the first US president to use the term in an annual message.

The largely symbolic move, breaking away from decades of carefully calibrated language from the White House, will likely be celebrated by the Armenian diaspora in the United States, but comes at a time when Ankara and Washington have deep policy disagreements over a host of issues.

"The American people honor all those Armenians who perished in the genocide that began 106 years ago today," Biden said in a statement. "Over the decades, Armenian immigrants have enriched the United States in countless ways, but they have never forgotten the tragic history. We honor their story. We see that pain".

"We affirm the history. We do this not to cast blame but to ensure that what happened is never repeated," he said.

 

 

A U.S. official insisted that the intention was not to place blame on modern Turkey, which the official called a "critical NATO ally."

"It is very much the intention of the statement – very much the intention of the president – to be doing this in a very principled way focused on the merits of human rights, and not for any reason beyond that including placing blame," the official told reporters.

For decades, measures recognizing the Armenian genocide stalled in the U.S. Congress and U.S. presidents have refrained from calling it that, stymied by concerns about relations with Turkey and intense lobbying by Ankara.

In a response, Turkey "entirely rejects" Washington’s move, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said, minutes after Biden's declaration. "We have nothing to learn from anybody on our own past. Political opportunism is the greatest betrayal to peace and justice," Cavusoglu said on Twitter. "We entirely reject this statement based solely on populism."

Turkey accepts that many Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire were killed in clashes with Ottoman forces during World War I, but contests the figures and denies the killings were systematically orchestrated and constitute a genocide.

 

(FRANCE 24 with AFP & REUTERS)

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