Earlier this week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Ankara is “disappointed” by US President Joe Biden’s decision to recognise the killing of 1.5 million Armenians in 1915 as genocide, and urged Washington to backtrack on the move.
Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay has claimed the US president’s recent recognition of events in 1915 as Turkey’s genocide against Armenians can be put down to two reasons, saying they are related to domestic politics and Washington’s drive to return to the international stage.
“I guess, he [Joe Biden]’s trying to use such a phenomenon as a tool to come back to one part of the world. And I strongly believe that these two reasons are totally the wrong start for him and for US foreign policy”, Oktay said in an interview with the state-run Turkish news network TRT World.
He added that “just because of the promises made to those Armenian or Armenian-affected lobbies”, one should not “make a historic decision” and “claim a nation responsible for a genocide”.
“The term genocide itself is not an easy word to use for anyone. If the word genocide has to be used, that has to be used for the United States, not for Turkey”, the Turkish vice president argued without elaborating.
The comments follow Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier this week expressing disappointment over Biden’s remarks, which he said would have a “destructive impact”, serving no purpose other than hindering bilateral ties.
Erdogan warned the US against politicising the events of the past, and stressed that historians, rather than politicians, should decide how to label them. He also alleged that “radical initiatives of Armenian and anti-Turkish circles” were behind Biden’s decision to recognise the genocide.
“US President Biden made statements earlier. These are groundless claims that contradict history”, the Turkish president said, advising America to “look at itself in the mirror”.
He asserted that the issue of genocide could be raised in connection with many American actions – from their treatment of indigenous peoples to the US wars in Vietnam and Iraq.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu earlier stated that Ankara “entirely rejects” the US declaration to recognise the genocide. He also emphasised that Biden’s move undermines the mutual “trust and friendship” between Washington and Ankara and that it has caused “a deep wound”. Cavusoglu accused Washington of “distorting historical facts”, something that he said would “never be accepted by the people of Turkey”.
“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”, Biden said in a statement on 24 May, timed to coincide with the 106th anniversary of the day Armenians commemorate the victims of the Ottoman Empire in 1915.