This is the first time a United States president has ever referred to the killing of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Turks as genocide.
On Saturday (April 24), falling on the same day as Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day this year, President Biden declared the mass slaughter of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians starting on April 25, 1915 a "genocide," placing pressure on Turkey's government to formally describe the violence as one that was ethnically driven.
While provoking pressure on the Turkish government and decades of a precedent set to finally recognize the violence as a genocide, the announcement could further strain the diplomatic relationship between the United States and Turkey. "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," said Biden in a statement.
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He added, "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," he concluded. The government of Turkey noted that the word choice from Biden about the century-old mass slaughter would, "open a deep wound that undermines our mutual trust and friendship."
Comparatively, the Armenian National Committee of America said Biden's declaration "has ended a century-long era of American complicity in Turkey's denials." With the announcement, Biden becomes the first acting U.S. president to formally refer to the violence as genocide.
Turkey continues to vehemently reject the "genocide" label. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu responded to Biden in a tweet Saturday, writing, " '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."
Turkey has also called for the president to, "correct this grave mistake." As a precautionary measure, the State Department said they will close the U.S. Embassy and consulates in Turkey as a "precautionary measure" in case any demonstrations take place. As usual, we'll keep you updated with any subsequent developments.