Turkey reacted with anger at the statement by U.S. President Joe Biden on Saturday to recognize the Armenian genocide.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused “third parties” of interfering in Turkey’s affairs.
“Nobody benefits from the debates – which should be held by historians – being politicized by third parties and becoming an instrument of interference in our country,” Erdoğan said in a message to the Armenian patriarch in Istanbul.
Turkey “entirely rejects” Biden’s recognition of the1915 events as a genocide, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said, minutes after Biden’s declaration.
“We have nothing to learn from anybody on our own past. Political opportunism is the greatest betrayal to peace and justice,” Çavuşoğlu said on Twitter.
“We entirely reject this statement based solely on populism.”
The Turkish foreign ministry denounced the move in a statement:
“We reject and denounce in the strongest terms the statement of the President of the U.S. regarding the events of 1915 made under the pressure of radical Armenian circles and anti-Turkey groups… It is clear that the said statement does not have a scholarly and legal basis, 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 U.S. President to correct this grave mistake.”
Turkey: Not an ‘Armenian genocide’, but a tragedy
Turkey’s position on the events of 1915 is that the deaths of Armenians in eastern Anatolia took place when some sided with invading Russians and revolted against Ottoman forces. A subsequent relocation of Armenians resulted in numerous casualties.
Turkey objects to the presentation of these incidents as “genocide,” describing them as a tragedy in which both sides suffered casualties.
Ankara has proposed the creation of a joint commission of historians from Turkey and Armenia as well as international experts to tackle the issue.
The genocide of Armenian people committed by Turkey in 1915, was officially recognized by US President Biden on Saturday in an official declaration.
“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,” the American President said.
The full statement by the White House
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.
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.
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.
The American people honor all those Armenians who perished in the genocide that began 106 years ago today.