US President Joe Biden acknowledged the massacres of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire more than 100 years ago as “genocide” on Saturday.
It was a first for an American president and is likely to support forces with Turkey.
“Beginning on April 24, 1915, with the arrest of Armenian scholars and community leaders in Constantinople by Ottoman officials, one and a half million Armenians were deported, killed, or marched to their deaths in a campaign of extermination,” Biden said in a statement issued on Armenian Remembrance Day.
“The American people honour all those Armenians who died in the genocide that began 106 years ago today.”
Turkey’s foreign service said in a report that Biden’s recognition of the massacres as genocide was based on “political motives”, adding that the US president has neither the “legal nor moral power to judge historical matters.”
The ministry said it would polarise people in the region and make “peace and stability” difficult.
According to AP, Biden had told Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of the decision in a call on Friday.
In separate comments on the call, the US and Turkish governments made no mention of the decision on the belief that the killings were a “genocide”.
But the White House said Biden told Erdogan that he wishes to improve the two countries relationship and find “effective control of disagreements.” The two also agreed to hold a bilateral agreement at the NATO summit in Brussels in June.
Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan tweeted that it was an “important day” for all Armenians.
Following are determinations adopted by US Congress in 2019, President Biden respected the memory of victims of the Armenian Genocide. The US has once again demonstrated in its regular delegation to protecting human rights and universal values,” he said.