In a first, US recognises 1915 massacres of Armenians as genocide
US President Joe Biden said the 1915 massacres of Armenians within the Ottoman Empire constituted genocide, a historic declaration that infuriated Turkey and is about to further strain frayed ties between the 2 NATO allies.
Washington: U.S. President Joe Biden on Saturday said the 1915 massacres of Armenians within the Ottoman Empire constituted genocide, a historic declaration that infuriated Turkey and is about to further strain frayed ties between the 2 NATO allies.
The largely symbolic move, breaking faraway from decades of carefully calibrated language from the White House, will likely to be celebrated by the Armenian diaspora within the us , but comes at a time when Ankara and Washington have deep policy disagreements over a number of issues.
Turkish secretary of state Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey “entirely rejects” the U.S. decision which he said was based “solely on populism”.
Biden`s message was met with “great enthusiasm” by the people of Armenia and Armenians worldwide, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan wrote during a letter to the U.S. president.
In his statement, Biden said the American people honor “all those Armenians who perished within the genocide that began 106 years ago today.”
“Over the decades Armenian immigrants have enriched the us in countless ways, but they need never forgotten the tragic history … We honor their story. We see that pain. We affirm the history. We do that to not cast blame but to make sure that what happened isn’t repeated,” Biden said.
In comments that sought to melt the blow, a senior administration official told reporters that Washington encouraged Armenia and Turkey to pursue reconciliation and continues to look at Ankara as a critical NATO ally.
For decades, measures recognizing the Armenian genocide stalled within the U.S. Congress and U.S. presidents have avoided calling it that, stymied by concerns about relations with Turkey and intense lobbying by Ankara.
Turkey accepts that a lot of Armenians living within the Ottoman Empire were killed in clashes with Ottoman forces during war One, but contests the figures and denies the killings were systematically orchestrated and constitute a genocide.
`RELATIONS ALREADY IN SHAMBLES`
A year ago, while still a presidential candidate, Biden commemorated the 1.5 million Armenian men, women and youngsters who lost their lives within the final years of the Ottoman Empire and said he would back efforts to acknowledge those killings as a genocide.
Ties between Ankara and Washington are strained over issues starting from Turkey`s purchase of Russian S-400 defense systems – over which it had been the target of U.S. sanctions – to policy differences in Syria, human rights and a court case targeting Turkey`s majority state-owned Halkbank.
Biden`s declaration follows a non-binding resolution by the U.S. Senate adopted unanimously in 2019 recognizing the killings as genocide.
Previous U.S. presidents have abandoned campaign promises to acknowledge the Armenian genocide for fear of damaging U.S.-Turkish relations, said Nicholas Danforth, non-resident fellow for The Hellenic Foundation for European and policy .
“With relations already in shambles, there was nothing to prevent Biden from following through,” said Danforth. “Ankara has no allies left within the United States government to lobby against this and Washington isn`t worried whether it angers Turkey anymore.”
Erdogan had established an in depth bond with former U.S. president Donald Trump, but since Biden took over, Washington has grown more vocal about Turkey`s human rights diary . it’s also stood firm on its demand that Ankara get obviate the Russian defense systems.
Biden had also delayed having a conversation with Erdogan until Friday — seen largely as a chilly shoulder to the Turkish president — when he informed him of his decision to acknowledge the massacres as genocide.
Saturday`s announcement was slammed by the Turkish government and a number of other opposition politicians. Turkey`s presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Biden`s remarks “only repeat the accusations of these whose sole agenda is enmity towards our country.”
“We advise the U.S. President to seem at (his country`s) own past and present,” Kalin wrote on Twitter.