White House: Biden, Erdogan agree to meet at North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in June

Ruben Hill
April 25, 2021

US President Joe Biden on Saturday recognised the 1915 killings of Armenians by Ottoman forces as genocide, a watershed moment for descendants of the hundreds of thousands of dead as he defied decades of pressure by Turkey.

"Today we commemorate the Armenian Genocide and pay tribute to the victims of this tragedy".

"And we remember so that we remain ever-vigilant against the corrosive influence of hate in all its forms", he said.

Although the Armenian Genocide is known throughout the world thanks to the hard work and lobbying of Armenia's diaspora communities, the Greek Genocide is lesser known. Starting with Uruguay in 1965, nations including France, Germany, Canada and Russian Federation have recognized the genocide but a USA statement has been a paramount goal that proved elusive under other presidents until Biden.

Biden made the decision "in a very principled way focused on the merits of human rights, and not for any reason beyond that, including placing blame", a senior United States official said.

Biden used a presidential proclamation to make the pronouncement.

Across the world, "people are beginning to acknowledge and address and grapple with the painful historical facts in their own countries".

"Within the United States and outside the United States, the American commitment to basic human values has been questioned now for decades", she said.

Member of the European Parliament Manfred Weber (EPP Group) has called on Turkey to face history and fully recognize the reality of the Genocide.

Salpi Ghazarian, director of the University of Southern California's Institute of Armenian Studies, said the recognition of genocide would resonate beyond Armenia and underscore Biden's seriousness about respect for human rights as a central principle in his foreign policy. We affirm the history.

Biden, during the campaign, drew ire from Turkish officials after an interview with The New York Times in which he spoke about supporting Turkey's opposition against "autocrat" Erdogan.

It also stated that common and strategic interests should be initiated on the basis of mutual respect between Turkey and USA relations.

Cavusoglu's foreign ministry struck a more strident tone.

Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister Avet Adonts, speaking at the memorial before Biden issued his proclamation, said a USA president using the term genocide would "serve as an example for the rest of the civilized world".

"With regards to the events of 1915, none of the conditions required for the use of the term "genocide" that is strictly defined in global law are met". "In 1915, 1.5 million of Armenians lost their lives in the massacres perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire", he said in a vide message. It says numerous victims were casualties of the war or murdered by Russians. Turkey vehemently rejects that label, conceding that many died in that era, but insisting that the death toll is inflated and the deaths resulted from civil unrest.

"The shameful silence of the United States Government on the historic fact of the Armenian Genocide has gone on for too long, and it must end", the lawmakers wrote.

Recognition has been a top priority for the Armenia and Armenian-Americans, with calls for compensation and property restoration over what they call Meds Yeghern - the Great Crime.

He voiced hope for greater USA alignment against Turkish-backed Azerbaijan, which past year won back swathes of territory controlled by Armenia since a war in the 1990s.

Biden's call with Erdogan was his first since taking office more than three months ago.

The meeting, to take place on the sidelines of the June 14 North Atlantic Treaty Organisation leaders meeting in Brussels, Belgium, will be used "to discuss the full range of bilateral and regional issues", after the leaders held a bilateral telephone call.

A Turkish statement on the call similarly stressed the positive, saying Erdogan and Biden agreed on "the importance of working together".

The US Congress in 2019 voted overwhelmingly to recognise the Armenian genocide but the Trump administration made clear that the official US line had not changed. In recent years, Turkey has launched military operations against PKK enclaves in Turkey and in northern Iraq and against US-allied Syrian Kurdish fighters.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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