Biden will be the first US president to qualify as "genocide" the massacre of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire

US President Joe Biden described this Saturday as “genocide” the slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire in 1915, a move that promises to increase tensions with Turkey.

In a statement to commemorate the 106th anniversary of the start of that massacre, which takes place this Saturday, Biden became the first sitting US president to formally recognize what happened as genocide, something its predecessors have avoided so as not to jeopardize the crucial alliance with Turkey.

“The American people honor all those Armenians who passed away in the genocide that began 106 years ago today“Biden said in his statement.

The president used the word “genocide” twice in the communiqué, thus fulfilling one of his electoral promises and carrying out a strong pressure campaign by congressmen and women. groups of Armenian Americans who have been asking for that term to be used for years.

In 2019, both the US Senate and the Lower House passed measures describing the 1915 massacre as “genocide,” despite warnings from the Turkish government that it it would seriously damage bilateral relations.

Turkey acknowledges the deaths of Armenian civilians during deportation attempts in 1915, but frames them in a warlike context with Russia in eastern Anatolia during World War I, and categorically refuses to accept the term genocide.

Biden explained in his statement that his intention was to “honor” the memory and “pain” of Armenian immigrants who came to the United States after the massacre, and their descendants, who never forgot that “tragic story.”

“We do not do this to place blame, but to ensure that what happened is never repeated “, stressed.

The US president stressed that respect for human rights is one of his priorities, as well as buildingr “a world that is not tainted by the daily evils of intolerance.”

“Let us renew our shared determination to prevent future atrocities from happening, anywhere in the world, and to promote healing and reconciliation, “concluded Biden.

The United States thus becomes the thirtieth country to recognize what happened more than a century ago as genocide, including several in Europe and Latin America, plus Russia and Syria, two enemies of Ankara.

According to official sources, Biden’s decision will not result in the imposition of sanctions on Turkey, despite the fact that the United States is part of the UN convention. against the genocide of 1948, which asks the States to punish this crime.

However, it is expected to weaken the relationship with Turkey, whose president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, had a warm relationship with former President Donald Trump, but rather cold with Biden when he was vice president of Barack Obama, between 2009 and 2017.

Until now, no sitting US president has officially called the massacre genocide, although Ronald Reagan (1981-1989) once used that word to refer to to the Armenian massacre in a proclamation on the Nazi Holocaust.

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