US President Joe Biden is expected today to take the landmark step of recognising the World War I-era Armenian genocide, a day after he spoke to the leader of Turkey which has fought furiously for decades against such a declaration.
In finally calling the mass massacre of Armenians a genocide, it is expected to complicate already tense relations between the U.S. and Turkey. We affirm the history.
Mr Bidensaid the intention was "not to cast blame but to ensure that what happened is never repeated".
"This is a momentous day for thousands upon thousands of my Armenian American constituents who have been working, advocating, and praying for recognition for their entire lives - and I am heartened that this announcement comes at a time when there are still some genocide survivors alive to witness it, though their numbers are very small", he said in a statement.
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. "The politicization of debates, which historians ought to engage in, by third parties and their use as a tool of meddling has not served anyone's interests".
"Words can not change or rewrite history", Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu tweeted moments after Biden's statement.
In comments that sought to soften the blow, a senior administration official told reporters that Washington continued to see Turkey as critical North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally and was encouraging Armenia and Turkey to pursue reconciliation. "It's certainly something that we are doing here in the United States", the official said.
Dressed in black for the solemn ceremony, they laid flowers around a tomb and said prayers for the estimated 1.5 million Armenians who were killed in the events beginning in 1915 known as Metz Yeghern.
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.
The number of Armenian dead has always been disputed.
Can Oguz, consul general of Turkey in Los Angeles, said his country vehemently rejects Biden's statement.
In the Armenian capital Yerevan, Taline Nourian, 41, said her people have been waiting for this moment for years. "I think Turkey will be afraid now because all countries are going to start recognising (the genocide)". The delay had become a worrying sign in Ankara; Erdogan had good rapport with former President Donald Trump and had been hoping for a reset despite past friction with Biden. The two leaders agreed to meet on the upcoming June NATO summit in Brussels "to discuss the full range of bilateral and regional issues", according to a White House readout.
The 36-year-old reality television personality thanked the nation's leader for his bold move in formally referring to the mass killing as a genocide.
Tensions have risen with Turkey in recent years over its purchase of a major air defense system from Russian Federation - the chief adversary of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation - and its incursions against US-allied Kurdish fighters in Syria.
From 1915-1930, the US provided unprecedented humanitarian assistance to save victims of the Armenian Genocide.
Biden, who pledged as a candidate to recognize the massacre as genocide, arguing that "silence is complicity", wanted to speak with Erdogan before making the formal recognition, according to officials familiar with Biden's deliberations and plans.
At a pro-Armenia rally in NY on Saturday, the crowd of several hundred included Aram Bowen, 33, whose great-great-grandfather was beheaded by the Ottomans during the massacres.
"This principled stand represents a powerful setback to Turkey's century-long obstruction of justice for this crime, and its ongoing hostility and aggression against the Armenian people", he said.
"So for us on so many levels, the closest thing to that actually becoming official worldwide, it was when the United States and the president himself acknowledged the genocide".
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