Biden set to declare atrocities committed against Armenia were genocide

People take part in a procession to commemorate the 106th anniversary of mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in Yerevan Armenia

President Joe Biden told his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Friday he plans to recognize the 1915 massacre of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire as a genocide, according to a person familiar with the conversation.

Former president Barack Obama, under whom Biden served as vice president, danced around the issue by referencing pre-election statements he made recognising the genocide and resisted pressure for a statement on the centennial in 2015. The PKK has led an insurgency against Turkey for more than three decades.

"If the U.S. President uses the term genocide, it will be an important step", Armenian deputy Foreign Minister Avet Adonts said at the memorial on Saturday.

Biden's message was met with "great enthusiasm" by the people of Armenia and Armenians worldwide, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan wrote in a letter to the US president.

The statement is a victory for Armenia and its extensive diaspora.

Explaining Biden's thinking, an administration official pointed to the Democratic president's vows to put a new priority on human rights and highlighted his outspokenness on systemic racism in the United States. "We honor their story".

"And we reaffirm with them our commitment to a world free of discrimination and persecution, where everyone can feel safe".

Cavusoglu said Saturday in a statement that Biden's recognition "distorts the historical facts, will never be accepted in the conscience of the Turkish people, and will open a deep wound that undermines our mutual trust and friendship". Despite decades of lobbying by the Armenian-American community, successive U.S. presidents have skirted the controversy out of worry about a rupture with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally Turkey. Ronald Reagan, the former USA president from California, a hub for the Armenian diaspora in the United States, had been the only US president to publicly call the killings genocide.

Turkey, which emerged as a secular republic from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire, acknowledges that 300,000 Armenians may have died but strongly rejects that it was genocide, saying they perished in strife and starvation in which many Turks also died.

Raffi Hamparian, chairman of Armenian National Committee of America, said in a statement that Biden's "principled stand. pivots America toward the justice deserved and the security required for the future of the Armenian nation".

Speaking in a statement on April 24, 2020 as a presidential candidate, Biden said: "If we do not fully acknowledge, commemorate, and teach our children about genocide, the words "never again" lose their meaning".

Ties between Ankara and Washington have been strained over issues ranging from Turkey's purchase of Russian S-400 air defense systems - over which it was the target of USA sanctions - to policy differences in Syria, human rights and a court case targeting Turkey's majority state-owned Halkbank. Starting with Uruguay in 1965, nations including France, Germany, Canada and Russian Federation have recognized the genocide, but a U.S. statement has been a paramount goal that proved elusive under previous presidents.

"With relations already in shambles, there was nothing to stop Biden from following through", said Danforth.

Biden and Erdogan agreed in their call to meet in June on the sidelines of a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Brussels, officials said.

Turkey insists that the killings and expulsions of ethnic Armenians in what was then the Ottoman Empire were not genocide but a result of the wider conflict in World War I.

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