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Iran Press TV

Turkey vows to respond in time to Biden's 'outrageous' recognition of Armenian genocide

Iran Press TV

Sunday, 25 April 2021 6:02 PM

Turkey has vowed to respond in time to the "outrageous" declaration by US President Joe Biden officially recognizing as "genocide" the massacres of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire more than a century ago.

Biden on Saturday became the first American president to proclaim formal recognition of the politically motivated "Armenian genocide," honoring all those Armenians who "perished in the genocide that began 106 years ago today" during World War I.

The unprecedented declaration infuriated Ankara, prompting Turkish officials to swiftly condemn Biden's statement.

On Sunday, Ibrahim Kalin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's spokesman and adviser lambasted the statement as "simply outrageous."

"There will be a reaction of different forms and kinds and degrees in coming days and months," Kalin said in an interview with Reuters.

He did not specify whether the Turkish government would restrict the US access to the Incirlik airbase in southern Turkey, which has been used to support the US-led international coalition purportedly fighting against the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in Syria and Iraq, or other measures it may take.

"At a time and place that we consider to be appropriate, we will continue to respond to this very unfortunate unfair statement," Kalin further said, adding that Erdogan would address the issue after a cabinet meeting on Monday.

Ankara acknowledges that many Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire were killed in clashes with Ottoman forces during the Great War, but denies that the killings were systematically orchestrated and constitute genocide.

Turkey also disputes the number of those killed, saying the toll has been inflated. It further argues that such accusations do not take into account the number of Turkish deaths during the conflict.

For decades, measures recognizing the Armenian genocide stalled in the US Congress and most American presidents have refused to officially describe the 1915 events as genocide, fearing relations with Turkey could be severely strained. Intense lobbying by Ankara was also influential.

Back in December 2019, the US Senate unanimously passed a resolution that formally recognized the killings of Armenians as "genocide," prompting angry condemnation from Ankara. Two months earlier, the lower House of Representatives had passed the nonbinding legislation.

The resolution had been blocked three times at the request of former president Donald Trump's administration, but won approval on its fourth try.

Some historians estimate that up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed around World War I.

Elsewhere in his remarks on Sunday, Kalin stressed that American officials had told Ankara that the declaration would not provide any legal basis for potential claims of reparations over the killings.

However, Erdogan told his American counterpart, when the pair spoke by phone on Friday, their first conversation since Biden took office in January, that it would be a "colossal mistake" to go ahead with such recognition.

"To reduce all that to one word and try to implicate that Turks were involved, our Ottoman ancestors were involved in genocidal acts is simply outrageous," Kalin said, adding that, "It's not supported by historical fact."

Shortly after Biden announced the declaration on Saturday, Turkey's foreign ministry summoned the American ambassador to Turkey, David Satterfield, over the issue.

The US embassy in Turkey, in response, announced that the diplomatic mission in the country would be closed for routine services on April 26-27 as a precautionary measure against possible dangers from anti-US mass protests in Ankara.

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