Shafaq News/ U.S. President Joe Biden recognized the historical massacre of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire during World War One as genocide.
“Each year on this day, 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. Beginning on April 24, 1915, with the arrest of Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Constantinople by Ottoman authorities, one and a half million Armenians were deported, massacred, or marched to their deaths in a campaign of extermination. We honor the victims of the Meds Yeghern so that the horrors of what happened are never lost to history. And we remember so that we remain ever-vigilant against the corrosive influence of hate in all its forms.” Biden said in a statement.
“Of those who survived, most were forced to find new homes and new lives around the world, including in the United States. With strength and resilience, the Armenian people survived and rebuilt their community. Over the decades Armenian immigrants have enriched the United States in countless ways, but they have never forgotten the tragic history that brought so many of their ancestors to our shores. We honor their story. We see that pain. We affirm the history. We do this not to cast blame but to ensure that what happened is never repeated.” He added.
“Today, as we mourn what was lost; let us also turn our eyes to the future—toward the world that we wish to build for our children. A world unstained by the daily evils of bigotry and intolerance, where human rights are respected, and where all people are able to pursue their lives in dignity and security. Let us renew our shared resolve to prevent future atrocities from occurring anywhere in the world. And let us pursue healing and reconciliation for all the people of the world.” Biden said.
He concluded, “The American people honor all those Armenians who perished in the genocide that began 106 years ago today.”
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan welcomed Biden’s statement on Saturday, saying “the US has once again demonstrated its unwavering commitment to protecting human rights and universal values”.
"This is very important for every Armenian," said Suren Sargsyan, co-founder of the Yerevan-based think tank the Armenian Center for American Studies. He added that almost all Armenian families had ancestors who died in the historic massacres, including his own.
"Unfortunately, this recognition is not a legal recognition; it is not legally binding in order to lead to any compensation," he added.
But Sargsyan said he was hopeful the U.S. recognition would pave the way for other nations to follow suit.
On Saturday, Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu hit back writing on Twitter that "words cannot change or rewrite history," and said the country "entirely reject" Biden's statement.
In a statement, Turkey’s foreign ministry rejected Biden’s statement as being without any “scholarly and legal basis” and said the conditions required to describe the events as“genocide” are not met under international law.
“The nature of the events of 1915 does not change according to the current political motives of the politicians or domestic political considerations. Such an attitude serves only a vulgar distortion of history,” the ministry said.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also tweeted, “We have nothing to learn from anybody on our own past.”
Ali Çınar, a U.S.-Turkish foreign policy analyst said the Turkish public would be "very disappointed" at Biden's statement and that the "emotional topic" would provoke a strong reaction.
"It was 100 years ago, why is United States getting involved in this historical debate between Turks and Armenians?" he said.
It is noteworthy that Armenia is a tiny country nestled between Asia and Europe in the Caucasus region with a population of around 3 million.