Biden recognizes the Armenian genocide for the first time in the US and raises the tension with Turkey

The president of the United States, Joe Biden, has described this Saturday as “genocide” the slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire in 1915, a measure that promises to increase tensions with Turkey. It is the first time that a US president has described the massacre that took place during the First World War as “genocide”.

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

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

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

Bilateral relations

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

Turkey acknowledges the deaths of Armenian civilians during deportation attempts in 1915, but places them in a war 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 the Armenian immigrants who came to the United States after the massacre, and their descendants, who never forgot that “tragic story.” “We are not doing this to blame, but to ensure that what happened is never repeated,” he stressed.

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

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

No sanctions on Turkey

The United States thus becomes the thirtieth country to recognize what happened more than a century ago as genocide, including several from Europe and Latin America, as well as 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 genocide of 1948, which asks states to punish this crime.

However, it is expected to weaken the relationship with Turkey, whose president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, maintained a warm relationship with former President Donald Trump, but quite 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 the Armenian massacre in a proclamation on the Nazi Holocaust.

Turkey rejects the statement

For his part, the Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, has rejected this Saturday the use of the term “genocide” used by the president of the United States.

“Words cannot change or rewrite history. We do not have to learn anything from anyone about our own past,” wrote the head of Turkish diplomacy on Twitter, moments after the release of Biden’s statement.

Political opportunism is the greatest betrayal of peace and justice. We completely reject this statement based solely on populism, “said the Turkish minister.

Armenia appreciates

Instead, the Armenian Prime Minister, Nikol Pashinián, thanked Biden for keeping his electoral promise to recognize the Armenian genocide committed more than a century ago by the Ottoman Empire.

Recognition “It is a powerful step on the path of reestablishing truth and historical justice”, says the telegram of thanks that Pashinián sent to Biden, according to the Armenian Government.

“The people of Armenia and Armenians around the world have received with great enthusiasm your message about the official recognition and condemnation of the Armenian genocide committed by the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1923,” he stressed.

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