President Joe Biden is under pressure to become the first United States president to recognize the Armenian Genocide.
In advance of Saturday’s annual remembrance of the murder of more than a million Armenians a century ago, Democrats and Republicans are pressuring the President to become the first U.S. president to acknowledge the event as a genocide. As commemorations for the victims are commencing around the world on April 24th, Biden will likely use the word “genocide” as part of his statement. “My understanding is that he took the decision and will use the word genocide in his statement on Saturday,” said a source familiar with the matter. Biden may also choose to not use the word, as it may damage relations with Turkey.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevult Cavusoglu agrees and believes that calling the mass killings a genocide will further damage the poor ties between the United States and Turkey. One year ago, while Biden was still a presidential candidate, he commemorated the 1.5 million Armenians who perished at the hands of the Ottoman Empire, in their final years. He also said he would recognize the murders as a 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.
Although Turkey accepts that many Armenians died, they contest the numbers and deny that the killings were systematically coordinated and constitute a genocide. Concerns about relations with Turkey and intense lobbying by Ankara has persuaded U.S. politicians to refrain from recognizing the Armenian Genocide. On Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters the White House would likely have “more to say” about the event on Saturday, but she declined to elaborate. The State Department referred queries about the issue to the White House and National Security Council, but they had no comment beyond what Psaki said.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan discussed the possibility of calling the mass murders a genocide with his High Consultations Council, his offices stated Thursday. “Our President has stated that they will continue to defend truths against the so-called Armenian Genocide lie and those who support this slander with political motivations” they stated. The founder of the Eurasia Group research and consulting firm, Ian Bremmer, said Biden’s expected move reflected the decaying relationship between the two NATO allies, but Erdodan’s response may be limited. “Erdoğan is … unlikely to provoke the U.S. with actions that could further undermine Turkey’s weak economy”. In 2019, the U.S. Senate passed a non-binding resolution recognizing the mass killings as a genocide, which angered Turkey.
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