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United States president Joe Biden opened a new contentious issue with Turkey Saturday by qualifying for the first time as "genocide" the killing of scores of Armenian by Turks in 1915-17, a term strongly rejected by Ankara.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has stated that Ankara "entirely rejects" the US declaration. He also stressed that Bien’s statement undermines the mutual "trust and friendship" between Turkey and the US and that it has caused "a deep wound". Cavusoglu accused Washington of "distorting historical facts" and that this will "never be accepted by the people of Turkey."
According to most historians, the evidence is clear the Turks engaged in a years-long ethnic cleansing campaign that included forced death marches and mass starvation.
Biden's recognition of the Armenian genocide was timed to coincide with the 106th anniversary of the day when Armenians commemorate the victims of the actions of the Ottoman Empire in 1915. Some historians say that systematic deportations, starvation, and massacres carried out by the Ottoman Empire in areas inhabited mostly by Armenians left around 1.5 million of them dead.
Turkey has not faced the #ArmenianGenocide for 106 years. The genocide occurred in these lands and justice must be served here. On its 106th anniversary, we share the sorrow of the genocide of the ancient people of our country and we commemorate with respect those who have fallen pic.twitter.com/sPqPsuoayB
In spite of the long time elapsed since the killing took place, Turkey has not retreated one inch from its interpretation of facts, thus leaving an open wound between the two peoples. The issue is highly sensitive also for Armenians, who are now digesting a bitter defeat by neighboring Azerbaijan over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, in 2020.
"Beginning on April 24, 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. We honour the victims of the Meds Yeghern so that the horrors of what happened are never lost to history", Biden said in a statement.