Armenian genocide anniversary puts Turkish-US relations under tension

Turkish President denounces US President's use of the term genocide, calling unjust and unfair and calling for a reversal

On the anniversary of the horrific event, US President Joe Biden made a statement commemorating the survivors and those that were killed. [Photo: EPA]
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish president, slammed Washington’s acknowledgement of the Armenian genocide on Monday, warning that the move, which he called a “wrong step,” would stymie US-Turkey ties.
Erdogan released a strong condemnation of US President Joe Biden’s use of the word “genocide” to describe the mass killings of Armenians during World War I just two days after Biden used the term.
“The US president has made false and unjust remarks,” Erdogan went on, “These remarks, we suspect, were included in the declaration as a result of pressure from radical Armenian and anti-Turkish parties. However, this circumstance has no bearing on the negative effect of these remarks.”

Erdogan invited US officials to inspect evidence about the massacre in Turkey’s archives in a detailed televised speech after a cabinet meeting on Monday.

The Turkish president even referred to US massacres, such as the mass killing and expulsion of Native Americans, the bombing of Japan during WWII, and the Vietnam War, to urge the US to focus on its own past.

Joe Biden made history on Saturday by being the first US president to use the word ‘genocide’ since Ronald Reagan did so in passing in 1981.

“On this day each year, we honour the lives of all those who perished in the Ottoman-era Armenian genocide and recommit ourselves to never allowing such an atrocity to happen again,” Biden said in a statement commemorating Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day on Saturday.

Between 1915 and 1923, an estimated 1.5 million Armenians were killed in Ottoman-controlled territories, the majority before 1919, as a result of widespread deportations, starvation, and killings.

The term “genocide” is a touchy subject for Turkish officials since the government recognizes that massacres were committed against Armenians during the war, but maintains that the killings were not part of a concerted effort and do not constitute genocide.

Erdogan did not announce any retaliatory steps against Washington, as the world leaders are expected to meet on the sidelines of a Nato summit in June.

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