President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan

US recognition of Armenian massacre as genocide angers Erdogan

On late Saturday, Turkey in response to the US administration’s recognition of 1915 Armenian massacre as genocide, summoned the US ambassador to Turkey. Ankara’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal challenged the US President Joe Biden’s statement and told the US Ambassador David Satterfield that the move lacked legal grounds. Onal added that Turkey”rejected it, found it unacceptable and condemned [it] in the strongest terms.” 

While making the declaration, Biden said in his statement, “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 people honor all those Armenians who perished in the genocide that began 106 years ago today.” 

The genocide declaration brought relief to many Armenians who had been lurking in the hope of justice for years. The US acknowledged that the massacre, which led to the killing of about 1.5 million Armenians, was conducted by the Ottoman Empire — the predecessor to modern-day Turkey — between 1915 and 1923. The said inglorious act was conducted as an expansion move by the Ottoman Empire. Turkey fired back stating that it could not be labelled as a genocide as the killings were not systematically orchestrated, and the victims died due to hostile engagement between the warring sides.

On Saturday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, sharply dismissed the move in one of his, saying, “Words cannot change or rewrite history. We have nothing to learn from anybody on our own past. Political opportunism is the greatest betrayal to peace and justice. We entirely reject this statement based solely on populism.”

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Cavusoglu warned that the US genocidal declaration “distorts the historical facts, will never be accepted in the conscience of the Turkish people, and will open a deep wound that undermines our mutual trust and friendship.” 

He added, “We call on the U.S. president to correct this grave mistake, which serves no purpose other than to satisfy certain political circles, and to support the efforts aiming to establish a practice of peaceful coexistence in the region, especially among the Turkish and Armenian nations, instead of serving the agenda of those circles that try to foment enmity from history.”

Many observers, supporting the move, equated Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s hostile foreign polices and human rights violations with aggressively expansive strategy of Ottoman Empire. Critics said Erdogan, who recently participated in Armenia- Azerbaijan conflict, wanted to exterminate Armenians, with an aimto restore the glories of the Ottoman Empire. Many believed that Erdogan deliberately dragged Ankara to the Nagorno- Karabakh battle, so that he could gain legal license not only to kill Armenians but also to slyly destroy the state and occupy the territory. Besides, Turkish premier has a history of suppressing minorities living in the country, ranging from women, Armenians, to Kurds.