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Iran Press TV

Biden becomes first US pres. to recognize 'Armenian genocide,' irking Turkey

Iran Press TV

Sunday, 25 April 2021 2:48 AM

US President Joe Biden has emerged as the first American president to proclaim formal recognition of the politically-motivated "Armenian genocide," which has long become an annual ritual for successive US presidents and lawmakers to promote the anti-Turkey stance more than a century after the carnage, blamed on Ottoman troops but never officially sanctioned.

"The American people honor all those Armenians who perished in the genocide that began 106 years ago today," Biden declared in a Saturday statement that is expected to further intensify persisting tensions between the new Democratic US administration and NATO ally Turkey.

"Beginning on 24 April 1915 with the arrest of Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Constantinople by Ottoman authorities, one and a half million Armenians were deported, massacred or marched to their deaths in a campaign of extermination," Biden further claimed.

Reacting to the hostile move targeting Ankara, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu blasted Biden's proclamation as "political opportunism" in a Twitter post, 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."

A separate statement issued by Turkey's foreign ministry further insisted that Biden's declaration lacked any scholarly legal grounds, saying: "It is clear that the said statement does not have a scholarly and legal basis, nor is it supported by any evidence. This statement … will open a deep wound that undermines our mutual trust and friendship. We call on the US president to correct this grave mistake"

According to press reports, Biden has called his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Friday to inform him about his intent to make the designation in a conversation that was described as tense.

This is while a senior US administration official was cited in a report by the UK-based Observer daily as saying that Biden would have made the declaration no matter what the state of bilateral ties with Ankara.

"This is something that's been a deeply held conviction of President Biden for a very long time going back to when he was in the Senate and it was a position that he made very clear during the campaign," the unnamed official added as quoted in the report.

The official also made a connection to the upsurge of issues of identity around the Black Lives Matter movement and attacks on Asian Americans.

"I would say we're also at a moment, including here in the United States, where people are grappling with their histories, and the impact of those histories and so I think even just historically it is the right moment to do this."

Turkey's status as a member of the US-led NATO military alliance and Washington's longtime regional ally has prevented American presidents from making a formal designation. Relations between the two countries have dramatically deteriorated in recent year, however, marked most recently by Turkey's decision to purchase Russian S-400 air defense system despite repeated US warnings against the move.

Biden's declaration also marked the culmination of decades of intense lobbying by powerful Armenian American political pressure groups.

"This is a critically important moment in the defense of human rights," chief of the Armenian Assembly of America, Bryan Ardouny, claimed as cited by the Observer. "It's been a long journey. President Biden is standing firm against a century of denial, and is charting a course in for human rights everywhere."

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