Biden preparing to recognise Armenian genocide, risking backlash from Turkey

He will be first US president to use word ‘genocide’ to describe killings of Armenians by Ottoman empire during First World War

Stuti Mishra@StutiNMishra
Thursday 22 April 2021 13:56
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<p>File image: President Biden may refer to the first World War atrocities against Armenians by Ottoman empire as genocide </p>

File image: President Biden may refer to the first World War atrocities against Armenians by Ottoman empire as genocide

The US president Joe Biden is preparing to declare the Ottoman empire’s killings of over a million Armenians during the First World War an act of genocide.

The move, even though symbolic, could impact the already strained ties US has with Turkey and is a big shift from the country’s previous stand.

According to Reuters, which quoted three sources familiar with the matter, Mr Biden is likely to use the word “genocide” as part of a statement on 24 April when annual commemorations for the victims are held around the world.

“My understanding is that he took the decision and will use the word genocide in his statement on Saturday,” a source familiar with the matter told Reuters.

However, the sources also said Mr Biden could change his mind last moment given the importance of America’s bilateral ties with Turkey.

Last year, Mr Biden said he would “support a resolution recognising the Armenian Genocide and will make universal human rights a top priority.”

Last year, during his presidential campaign, Mr Biden commemorated the killngs said he would back efforts to recognise the atrocities as an act of genocide.

“Today, we remember the atrocities faced by the Armenian people in the Metz Yeghern — the Armenian Genocide. If elected, I pledge to support a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide and will make universal human rights a top priority,” he said on Twitter at the time.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki denied to comment to on the issue on Wednesday but said she expects Mr Biden will have “more to say about Remembrance Day on Saturday”.

Responding to reports of Mr Biden’s move, Turkey’s foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, said on Tuesday that any move by Mr Biden to recognise the mass killings as a genocide will further harm already strained ties between the Nato allies.

“Statements that have no legal binding will have no benefit, but they will harm ties,” Mr Cavusoglu said in an interview with broadcaster Haberturk. “If the United States wants to worsen ties, the decision is theirs,” he said.

Historians say an estimated 1.5 million Armenians were killed by the Ottoman Empire — the predecessor to modern-day Turkey — between 1915 and 1923. Turkey accepts Armenians were killed in clashes with Ottomons but denies the numbers and refuses to to call it a genocide or a sytematic plan to wipe out the Armenians.

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