(Washington) Joe Biden admitted the Armenian genocide on Saturday, becoming the first president of the United States to describe the killing of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire in 1915.
His Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, responded immediately by condemning the “politicization of third parties” of this debate, in a letter he addressed to the Armenian Patriarch in Istanbul. Its foreign minister said that Turkey “has no lessons to learn from anyone in its history”.
For his part, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pachinyan praised “a very strong measure towards justice and historical truth” in a message on Facebook.
The Armenian Genocide has been recognized by more than twenty countries and many historians, but Turkey is fiercely disputed by it.
“Americans honor all Armenians who died in the genocide that began 106 years ago today,” Joe Biden wrote in a statement.
“We confirm history. We are not doing this to confuse anyone, but to make sure that what happened will not be repeated.”
The Democratic President, who had promised during his election campaign to take the initiative on this issue, informed his Turkish counterpart, on Friday, of his decision in a phone conversation.
The two leaders agreed to meet in June on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Brussels.
In a phone call with the Turkish head of state, the White House tenant expressed his desire to build a “constructive bilateral relationship,” according to the brief American report, which calls for the need for “effective dispute management.”
“Honoring the victims”
A US official insisted, on the condition of anonymity, that it was about “honoring the victims, not drowning anyone.” She added, “We still see Turkey as an important ally within NATO.”
Without explicitly referring to the United States, the Turkish president sent a veiled warning to Washington on Thursday.
During a meeting with advisors, he warned that he would continue to “defend the truth against those who support the lie of the so-called” Armenian Genocide. ” […] For political purposes. ”
Despite years of pressure from the Armenian community in the United States, no American president has yet dared to anger Ankara.
The US Congress recognized the Armenian Genocide in December 2019 in a symbolic vote, but Donald Trump, who had fairly good relations with Recep Tayyip Erdogan, refused to use the word, speaking only of “one of the worst mass atrocities of the twentieth century.”
Armenians estimate that one and a half million of them were systematically killed during World War I by forces from the Ottoman Empire, then allied with Germany, Austria and Hungary. They commemorate this genocide every year on April 24th.
Turkey, resulting from the dismantling of the empire in 1920, recognized the massacres, but rejected the term genocide, which sparked a civil war in Anatolia, along with famine, in which between 300,000 to 500,000 Armenians and many Turks died.
Turkey will never recognize genocide. “This will never happen,” Aram Bowen, 33, told AFP during a rally of hundreds of members of the Armenian community in New York.
He added that Joe Biden’s announcement is “the closest thing to global recognition.”
For his part, Samuel Armin, 32, born in Armenia, who was present at the New York gathering, considered this gesture a “positive step”, but it was not yet “sufficient”.
We’ve been waiting for this for years, we wanted this before Biden. Meanwhile, Tallinn Nurian told AFP, a cross in Yerevan, “We had a lot of promises with Trump and before that, we waited.
“I think Turkey will be afraid now because all countries will start recognizing (genocide) this year or the year after, and everyone will talk about it,” said the 41-year-old Armenian man.
Gregory, the less optimistic, believes in an interview with Agence France-Presse on the streets of Jerusalem that this decision “will not change anything.”
Armenia is a little small country, we are not big and strong like Turkey. We do not have much to offer in terms of geopolitics and commerce, “the man in his 60s continues in front of the St. James Armenian Monastery.
Mr. Biden’s announcement will have no legal effect, but it will only exacerbate tensions with Turkey, which US diplomat chief Anthony Blinken has described as a “so-called strategic partner” and which “does not, in many respects, act as an ally.”
The Democratic President claims he wants to place the defense of human rights at the center of his foreign policy. His government confirmed its accusation of “genocide” in the last days of Donald Trump’s presidency against China for the suppression of the Uyghur Muslims.