(CNN) – On Saturday President Joe Biden Became the first president of the United States to officially recognize genocide as genocide. Armenian Genocide Under the Ottoman Empire, relations with Turkey were in danger of breaking down, but signified global commitment to human rights.
In a statement marking the 106th anniversary of the massacre, Biden wrote: “Every year on this day, we remember the lives of all those who died in the Ottoman-era Armenian Genocide, and we pledge to stop this atrocity.”
Today, when we grieve over what we have lost, we turn to the future and the world we want to build for our children. It is a world where human rights will be respected and all people will be able to live their lives with dignity and security.
Measurement meets Biden’s campaign promise The final use of the word genocide to describe the systematic killing and deportation of Armenians in Turkey now over a century ago. Biden’s predecessors at the White House did not use the word and were wary of damaging relations with a key regional ally.
U.S. officials gave earlier this week Symptoms Some NGO allies demanded an official report on the genocide. In an interview with a Turkish broadcaster this week, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said: “If the United States wants to worsen relations, the decision is theirs.”
Kaushoklu said on Saturday that Ankara completely rejects Biden’s use of the word.
“We are not going to learn lessons from anyone about our history. Political opportunism is the greatest betrayal of peace and justice. We reject this statement, which is based solely on populism,” he said. Tweet.
The Turkish government often registers complaints when foreign governments use the term “genocide” to describe the event, which began in 1915. They estimate that it was a time of war and that there were casualties on both sides and that the number of Armenians was 300,000.
President Barack Obama and Donald Trump did not use the word genocide to avoid anger at Ankara.
But Biden has determined his relationship with Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Is anyway Worsened In recent years, they should not refrain from using a word that confirms the plight of Armenians a century ago, and refers to the current commitment to human rights.
This announcement will bring no other legal consequences for Turkey, only diplomatic consequences.
As vice president, Biden frequently dealt with Erdogan and made four trips to Turkey even after the failed coup attempt. But then he presented a hopeless view of the Turkish leader.
I spent a lot of time with him. He is a dictator, “he told the New York Times editorial board in 2020. He is the President of Turkey and so on. What we need to do now is to take a very different approach with him, making it clear that we support the leadership of the opposition.
Biden spoke by telephone with Erdogan on Friday, his first conversation with the Turkish leader since taking office. Any communication in the long run has been interpreted as a sign that Biden will place less importance on US relations with Turkey in the future.
The two agreed to meet face to face on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Brussels in mid-June. The White House said Biden had expressed “interest in a constructive bilateral relationship with cooperation and effective handling of differences”, but that reading did not address the issue of the Armenian genocide.
Red Sunday atrocities
The campaign of atrocities that Biden acknowledged began on the nights of April 23-24, 1915, when authorities detained about 250 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in the Ottoman capital, Constantinople. Many of them were deported or killed. April 24, also known as Red Sunday, is commemorated by Armenians around the world as Genocide Remembrance Day.
The number of Armenians killed is a major controversy. Without all the casualties in the Ottoman Empire, there are estimates of between 300,000 and 2 million deaths between 1914 and 1923. But most estimates, made by Ottoman authorities between 1915 and 1918, ranged from 600,000 to 1.5 million.
By massacre or forced deportation, the number of Armenians living in Turkey fell from 2 million in 1914 to less than 400,000 in 1922.
Although the number of deaths is controversial, photographs of the period documented some mass killings. They show Ottoman soldiers posing with severed heads and others with them standing between the skulls on the ground. The victims are said to have drowned in mass cremations and water and died of torture, gas, poison, disease and starvation. The children were loaded on boats, taken out to sea and dumped on the ship. Rapes were also frequently reported.
A commitment that Obama or Trump will not fulfill
As a candidate, Biden said, “I am committed to supporting a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide and will make global human rights a priority for my government.”
But similar obligations have not been fulfilled before. When Obama ran for president, he shared with “Armenian Americans, many of whom are descendants of genocide survivors, a policy commitment to remembering and ending genocide.”
But like the presidents before him, the realities of diplomacy will weigh in when he takes office. In the eight years since he took office, Obama avoided using “genocide.” Recalling the April event. With Turkey established as a key partner in the fight against ISIS terrorists, the issue seemed even less so.
Some Obama administration officials, including his deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes and US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, later regretted that they did not take action. Biden’s Candidate Power to head the U.S. Agency for International Development.
In 2019, the House and Senate passed a Resolution It recognized the massacre of Armenians from 1915 to 1923 as genocide. Prior to its approval, the Trump administration asked Republican SenatorsThe request for consensus must be blocked several times on the grounds that it could undermine negotiations with Turkey.
Trump sought to develop a friendship with Erdogan as relations between Washington and Ankara deteriorated over Turkey’s acquisition of a Russian-made air defense system. Alleged human rights violations By Turkish support forces in Syria.
A group of more than 100 Republican and Democratic lawmakers wrote a letter to Fiden this month urging him to formally acknowledge the Armenian genocide. The group was led by Adam Schiff, a Democrat from California. A large Armenian American community resides in Los Angeles and the surrounding Schiff County.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement on Saturday that “our hearts are glad that President Biden has taken the historic step of joining Congress with formal recognition on the day of the Armenian Genocide.”
“In commemoration of this Memorial Day, we pledge that we will always stand against hatred and violence wherever we look and renew our commitment to building a future of hope, peace and freedom for all children in the world.”
CNN’s Daniella Diaz, Donald Judd and Jasmine Wright contributed to the report.
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