US President Joe Biden on Saturday called the events of 1915 an “Armenian genocide,” breaking American presidents’ long-held tradition of refraining from using the term.
“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 an official statement.
“We honor the victims of the Meds Yeghern so that the horrors of what happened are never lost to history,” said Biden, using an Armenian phrase for the events. “And we remember so that we remain ever-vigilant against the corrosive influence of hate in all its forms,” he added.
Biden said Armenian immigrants “have enriched the US in countless ways, but they have never forgotten the tragic history that brought so many of their ancestors to our shores.”
“We honor their story. We see that pain. We affirm the history. We do this not to cast blame but to ensure that what happened is never repeated,” he added. “The American people honor all those Armenians who perished in the genocide that began 106 years ago today.”
Shortly before Biden’s statement, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the debate over the Armenian claims, which have been politicized by third parties and turned into tools of interference, has helped no one.
“We cannot allow the centuries-old culture of coexistence of Turks and Armenians to be forgotten,” Erdogan said in a letter to Sahak Mashalian, head of the Armenian Patriarchate of Turkey.
Turkish stance on events of 1915
Turkey’s position on the events of 1915 is that the deaths of Armenians in eastern Anatolia took place when some sided with invading Russians and revolted against Ottoman forces. A subsequent relocation of Armenians resulted in numerous casualties.
Turkey objects to the presentation of these incidents as “genocide,” describing them as a tragedy in which both sides suffered casualties.
Ankara has repeatedly proposed the creation of a joint commission of historians from Turkey and Armenia as well as international experts to tackle the issue.
In 2014, then-Prime Minister Erdogan expressed condolences to the descendants of Armenians who lost their lives in the events of 1915.