Turkey says it “entirely rejects” U.S. President Joe Biden’s recognition of the “Armenian genocide.”
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Washington’s declaration is based solely on populism and Turkey’s foreign ministry has summoned the U.S. Ambassador in Ankara to protest the move.
“The statement does not have a legal ground in terms of international law and has hurt the Turkish people, opening a wound that’s hard to fix in our relations,” the ministry said.
“We have nothing to learn from anybody on our own past. Political opportunism is the greatest betrayal to peace and justice,” Foreign Minister Cavusoglu said on Twitter.
U.S. President Joe Biden’s remarks on the events of 1915, which distorted historical facts under pressure from the radical Armenian lobby, are null and void, Turkey’s presidential spokesman said on Saturday.
“We strongly reject and condemn this statement, which reflects the slanders of those who are malicious and whose only agenda is hostile to our country,” Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said in a statement.
Kalin emphasised that the so-called “genocide” allegations lack any basis or scholarly evidence as required by international law.
“When our President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for the establishment of a joint history commission to investigate the 1915 events, he wanted to save a historical issue from the shadow of politics and malicious circles. The U.S. president ignored these facts and took an unfair attitude,” he said.
Kalin contended that the U.S. administration unfortunately has succumbed to the pressure of the Armenian lobby.
Turkey’s position on the events of 1915 is that the deaths of Armenians in eastern Anatolia took place when some sided with invading Russians and revolted against Ottoman forces. A subsequent relocation of Armenians resulted in numerous casualties.
Turkey objects to the presentation of these incidents as “genocide,” describing them as a tragedy in which both sides suffered casualties.
Ankara has repeatedly proposed the creation of a joint commission of historians from Turkey and Armenia as well as international experts to tackle the issue.
Previous U.S. administrations have not used the term genocide in formal statements amid concerns over damaging relations with Turkey, a Nato ally.
Mr Biden’s statement said: “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. And we remember so that we remain ever-vigilant against the corrosive influence of hate in all its forms.”
Mr Biden said the intention was “not to cast blame but to ensure that what happened is never repeated.”
The number of Armenian dead has always been disputed. Armenians say about 1.5 million people died. Turkey estimates the total to be closer to 300,000. According to the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS), the death toll was “more than a million.”
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said Mr Biden’s words had “honoured the memory” of those who had died, adding in a tweet: “The U.S. has once again demonstrated its unwavering commitment to protecting human rights and universal values.”