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Biden irritates Turkey by first acknowledging Armenian genocide

Washington, Apr 24 (EFE) .- US President Joe Biden became the first acting president of the United States on Saturday, describing how “genocide” the slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire beginning in 1915, a decision that generated strong rejection from Turkey.

Biden irritates Turkey by first acknowledging Armenian genocide

EFE Agency

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FOLLOWING

Biden’s announcement promises to weaken the United States’ relationship with Turkey, one of its most important allies in NATO and an essential strategic partner in advancing Washington’s priorities in the Middle East.

“The American people honor all those Armenians who perished in the genocide that began 106 years ago today”Biden said in a statement marking the anniversary of the massacre.

TURKEY TACTS IT FROM “SERIOUS ERROR”

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu immediately condemned Biden’s decision, which his office dismissed as “serious mistake”, and accused him of being carried away by the pressure of “radical Armenian circles and anti-Turkish groups”.

“Political opportunism is the greatest betrayal of peace and justice. We completely reject this statement based solely on populism”the Turkish minister wrote in a tweet.

Turkey steadfastly refuses to accept the term genocide to describe what happened, and although it acknowledges the death of Armenian Christians between 1915 and 1923, it places them in a warlike context with Russia in eastern Anatolia during World War I.

However, many historians consider the massacre the first genocide of the 20th century, which occurred when a waning Ottoman Empire, the predecessor of modern Turkey, massively deported Armenian civilians to Syria for fear that they would ally themselves with Russia.

Many of the deportees – 1.5 million, according to various estimates by historians – died on the way, either killed by Ottoman soldiers or Kurdish mercenaries, either from hunger or disease.

THE ROAD TO THE BIDEN DECISION

At least 29 countries have recognized that massacre as genocide for decades, and pressure for the United States to do the same has increased in recent years, fueled by several congressmen and by the large Armenian diaspora in the country.

The US Congress already passed resolutions to use that word in 2019, and former President Barack Obama faced strong pressure to do the same during his term (2009-2017), but ultimately avoided it so as not to jeopardize ties with Turkey.

With his decision, Biden wants to show that human rights will be a pillar of his foreign policy, and in his statement he emphasized his desire to “prevent future atrocities from happening, anywhere in the world”.

“We do not do this to blame, but to ensure that what happened is never repeated.”, stressed the president, who used the word twice “genocide” in your statement.

Acknowledging the Armenian genocide was an electoral promise from Biden, and just a year ago, the then Democratic presidential hopeful stressed the importance of calling things by name.

“If we do not fully acknowledge, commemorate and teach our children about genocide, the words ‘never again’ lose their meaning”Biden said in a statement last year.

JOY IN ARMENIA, TENSION WITH ERDOGÁN

The Prime Minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinián, sent a telegram to Biden this Saturday to thank him for the measure, which he described as “a powerful step on the path of reestablishing historical truth and justice”.

Less pleasant was the telephone conversation that Biden had on Friday with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in which he confirmed that he would recognize the Armenian genocide, as several US media had already announced on Wednesday.

On that call, Biden expressed his interest in achieving a “effective management of disagreements”The two agreed to meet in person in June, during the NATO summit in Brussels.

It will be the first meeting between the two since the coming to power of Biden, who delayed for months his first telephone conversation with Erdogan, a leader with whom he had a cold relationship when he was Obama’s vice president.

Ties between the United States and Turkey have weakened in recent years, especially in the wake of the failed military coup in 2016, for which Erdogan blames the self-exiled Islamist preacher Fethullah Gülen.

Relations were further aggravated by the Turkish offensive against Kurdish-Syrian militias in northeastern Syria in 2019 and Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missile system, rejected by NATO, which led Washington to impose sanctions on Ankara last year.

Lucia Leal

(c) EFE Agency

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