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US President Joe Biden officially recognises ‘Armenian genocide’ | Genocide News

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Biden is first US president to formally recognise mass killings of Armenians in Ottoman Empire during WWI as ‘genocide’.

United States President Joe Biden has formally recognised the mass killing of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire during World War I as a “genocide”, a move that was immediately rejected by Turkey.

In a statement on Saturday, Biden became the first US president to formally recognise the killings of 1.5 million Armenians in the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1917 as an act of “genocide”.

“Each year on this day, 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,” the statement reads.

“The American people honor all those Armenians who perished in the genocide that began 106 years ago today.”

Turkey has acknowledged the deaths of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire during World War I, but has steadfastly denied that the killings were systematically orchestrated and constitute a genocide.

Biden’s declaration comes amid strained ties between the US and Turkey, which had earlier warned that recognising the killings as a genocide would further harm relations between the NATO allies.

Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Ankara rejected Biden’s statement, saying it is “based solely on populism”.

“We have nothing to learn from anybody on our own past,” Cavusoglu tweeted.

Armenians, who marked Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day on Saturday, have for years appealed to the US and other countries around the world to recognise the killings as a genocide.

In 2019, the US Congress passed a symbolic resolution recognising the “Armenian genocide”, but then-President Donald Trump rejected the measure.

In a letter on Wednesday, over 100 members of Congress urged Biden to recognise the killings as genocide, saying the US government’s “shameful silence” had gone on for too long.

Aram Hamparian, executive director of the Armenian National Committee of America, said this week that Biden’s genocide declaration would end “the longest lasting foreign gag-rule in American history”.

But Turkey has raised staunch opposition to the move.

US President Joe Biden informed his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, during a phone call on Friday of his plan to recognise the Armenian ‘genocide’ [File: Murad Sezer/Reuters]

Earlier on Saturday, Turkish parliamentary speaker Mustafa Sentop said recognising the killings as genocide would be “a political statement with no legal basis”.

“As claimed, none of the conditions specified in law exist for the 1915 events to be defined as genocide,” Sentop said, as reported by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency.

Turkish presidential spokesperson Fahrettin Altun also said this week that the designation would be “a slander that has no connection with the facts and is only fuelled by political calculations”.

“It is an emotional, irrational and illegitimate accusation,” Altun said.

US-Turkish relations have been strained in recent years over a number of issues, including Ankara’s purchase of Russian-made S-400 missile defence systems.

Biden informed his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, of the planned “Armenian genocide” recognition during a phone call on Friday.

In a statement, the White House said Biden also conveyed to Erdogan his interest in building “a constructive bilateral relationship with expanded areas of cooperation and effective management of disagreements”.

The presidents also agreed to hold a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of a NATO summit in June.


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