Saturday, Joe Biden became the only president to officially recognize the 1915 massacre of more than 1 million Armenians during world war 01, as genocide by the Ottoman empire.
Highlights of Biden’s speech.
Speaking from the briefing room in the White House, Biden said, “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 massacred, reported, or marched to their deaths in a campaign of extermination…
“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…
“A world unstained by the daily evils of bigotry and intolerance, where human rights are respected, and where all people are free to pursue their lives in dignity and security…
“The American people honor all those Armenians who perished in the genocide that began one-hundred and six years ago today.”
Previous president’s have failed to recognize the massacre of Armenians, in the midst of concerns that it might possibly be harmful to relations between Turkey and the United States. Turkey has employed lobbyists to prevent Washington from declaring the massacre of Armenians as “a genocide. One of former president Obama’s advisors, Ben Rhoades, regretted that they had not recognized the massacre.
“There was always a reason not to,” Rhodes said. “Turkey was vital to some issue we were dealing with, or some dialogue between Turkey and the Armenian government about the past.”
“Thanks to the hostility Turkish president Erdogan has engendered through his foreign policy and human rights abuses,” said Alan Makovsky of the liberal think tank, The Center For America Progress. “Turkey will raise a fuss for a few days and perhaps delay acting on some routine requests from the US military. But there are too many substantive problems on the US-Turkish plate for Ankara to allow the recognition to make a major difference.”
The statement was denounced by Turkey’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mevlut Cavusoglu, who via his own statement, wrote, “It is clear that the said statement does not have a scholarly and legal basis in fact, nor is it supported by any evidence. This statement will open a deep wound that undermines our mutual trust and friendship. We call on the US president to correct this grave mistake.”
A senior Biden advisor said that the president would have made the statement despite the current status of the relationship between the United States and Turkey.
The Armenian National Committee of America welcomed the statement.
Sources: USA Today, The Guardian, WhiteHouse.gov