Biden says Armenian mass killing was genocide

Ruben Fields
April 25, 2021

Biden, who during his decades as a senator forged close relations with the Armenian-American and Greek-American communities, promised during his presidential campaign to recognise the Armenian genocide.

"If the United States wants to worsen ties, the decision is theirs", he said. Turkey also says the number of Armenians killed was far fewer than the usually accepted figure of 1.5 million. We affirm the history.

Turkey's foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, warned the Biden administration this past week that recognition would "harm" U.S. -Turkey ties.

In a message to the Armenian patriarch in Istanbul, Erdogan also accused "third parties" of trying to politicise the century-old debate.

Officials said Biden wanted to speak with Erdogan before formally recognizing the events of 1915 to 1923 as genocide-something past US presidents had avoided out of concern about damaging relations with Turkey.

"It is clear that the said statement does not have a scholarly and legal basis, nor is it supported by any evidence", it said.

Over eight years he offered increasingly strong condemnations - calling the 1915 events "the first mass atrocity of the 20th century" in which 1.5 million Armenians "were deported, massacred, and marched to their deaths in the final days of the Ottoman Empire".

"With regards to the events of 1915, none of the conditions required for the use of the term "genocide" that is strictly defined in global law are met". It says numerous victims were casualties of the war or murdered by Russians.

"The shameful silence of the United States Government on the historic fact of the Armenian Genocide has gone on for too long, and it must end", the lawmakers wrote.

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Recognition has been a top priority for the Armenia and Armenian-Americans, with calls for compensation and property restoration over what they call Meds Yeghern - the Great Crime. We thought it was going to happen this year.

But in a potential sign that the two leaders want to avoid further deterioration of relations, the White House said that Biden and Erdogan would meet when they are in Brussels in June for a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit. The delay had become a worrying sign in Ankara; Erdogan had good rapport with former President Donald Trump and had been hoping for a reset despite past friction with Biden. Biden has kept Erdogan at arm's length - a contrast with Trump, whom the Turkish leader reportedly found so amenable that he would call Trump directly on his phone on the golf course.

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

Alan Makovsky, an expert on Turkey at the left-leaning Center for American Progress, said that the 2019 congressional resolution had "no discernible impact" on US-Turkey relations - and paved the way for Biden to go ahead.

The U.S. has imposed sanctions on Turkey and cut it out of Lockheed Martin Corp.'s F-35 fighter program -unprecedented for a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally - after Turkey began purchasing S-400 anti-aircraft missiles from Russian Federation.

"We've seen through experience that concern about Turkey's reaction was always overblown", he said.

Previous US administrations have not used the term genocide in formal statements amid concerns over damaging relations with Turkey, a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally. In 2014, when he was vice president, Biden apologized to Erdogan after suggesting in a speech that Turkey helped facilitate the rise of the Islamic State group by allowing foreign fighters to cross Turkey's border with Syria.

Biden before taking office called Erdogan an autocrat and voiced support for Turkey's opposition.

The Biden administration has criticized Erdogan aides over homophobic statements - but has turned to Turkey for diplomatic efforts in seeking a peace agreement in Afghanistan.

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