Angry with Turkey, Biden keeps promise to recognize Armenian genocide

May 2, 2021 11:38 AM STI

By John Solomou
Nicosia [Cyprus], May 2 (ANI): US President Joe Biden last month kept his campaign pledge to officially recognize as genocide the deportation and slaughter of approximately 1,500,000 Armenians by the Ottoman Empire during World War I.
Responding, Turkey rejected Biden’s decision to formally recognize the Armenian genocide and accused the United States of trying to rewrite history. The Turkish Foreign Ministry summoned the US ambassador to Turkey to express its displeasure, stressing that Biden’s decision “has caused a wound in relations between the two countries which is difficult to repair”. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said defiantly: “We will not learn from anyone about our history.”
With the exception of Ronald Regan, in 1981 all American presidents carefully avoided the issue of the Armenian genocide because they feared the damage it would cause to relations between the United States and Turkey, because over the years, Ankara stubbornly rejected accusations of the Armenian genocide. Ankara admits that around 300,000 Armenians died during this time, but insists that although during World War I many Turks and Armenians died, there was no deliberate policy of genocide. It should be noted that around thirty countries officially recognize the Armenian genocide.
In a letter to Biden, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said that recognition of the genocide “is important not only in terms of respecting the memory of 1.5 million innocent victims, but also in preventing the recurrence of such crimes” .
It is remarkable that Joe Biden, who had avoided phoning Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan since his inauguration three months ago, did so on Friday, warning him in advance of his decision to recognize the Armenian genocide the next day. Biden also stressed his willingness to improve relations between the two countries and to find “effective management of disagreements.” The two men have agreed to meet next June on the sidelines of a NATO summit.
In the past, the Turkish government viewed references to the Armenian genocide as “an insult to Turkishness” and people were charged and sent to jail. The Turkish Foreign Ministry rejected Biden’s statement, saying it distorts historical facts and stressed that “it will never be accepted in the conscience of the Turkish people and will open a deep wound that undermines our mutual trust and our friendship”.

The usual practice followed by Ankara when a country acknowledged the genocide was to recall its diplomats from that country, for example its ambassadors in Germany and the Vatican. It is, however, highly unlikely that she will do so with the Turkish Ambassador to the United States.
But why Biden made the bold decision to proclaim the mass deportation and murder of hundreds of thousands of Armenians “a genocide,” and decided it was high time to call a spade a spade, even if he knew very well that would anger Turkey. Autocratic president and anger of the majority of ordinary Turks?
Jenny White, from the Institute for Turkish Studies at Stockholm University, explains: “President Biden has made democracy and human rights a central tenet of his administration. At this point, the Biden administration has nothing to lose by acknowledging Turkey’s failure in this regard. could push Turkey to change? Turkey needs the United States more than the United States needs Turkey at the moment. “
Granted, it’s too early to know the fallout from Biden’s announcement, but it’s clear that relations between the United States and Turkey are rather cold. Late last year, the United States imposed sanctions on Ankara over the acquisition of the Russian S-400 air defense system, while Turkey was removed from the list of “global participants” in the program. American F-35 joint attack fighter.
Turkey is currently facing a difficult economic situation, with the value of the Turkish lira plummeting, its central bank reserves falling to just $ 10.68 billion – the lowest since 2003 – as some $ 130 billion has been spent in a futile effort to stabilize the read. All of this at a time when the country is grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic, a spike in inflation and unemployment. Erdogan said he wanted to “turn a new leaf” with the United States and Europe, two of Turkey’s biggest trading partners, but took no significant steps to improve Ankara’s relations with them.
President Tayyip Erdogan has lost a number of allies in recent years as his popularity, especially among young people, wanes. Critics attribute Biden’s recognition of the genocide to Erdogan’s aggressive foreign policy, which alienated many of Turkey’s traditional allies, including Israel.
Main opposition Republican Party spokesman Faik Oztrak described Biden’s proclamation as “a historic mistake,” but at the same time stressed that “these hostile statements are an abject example of what short-sighted foreign policy of the Tayyip Erdogan party brought to Turkey “.
Although Erdogan over the years had a habit of reacting immediately to any criticism of Turkey by foreign governments and was immediately applauded by his nationalist supporters, this time he remained silent. This can perhaps be attributed to the realization that the US administration’s willingness to make concessions due to Ankara’s strategic position and the fact that it has the second largest army in the alliance of NATO is now gone. Biden will be a much more difficult ally than Erdogan’s friend Donald Trump.
Alan Makovsky, an expert on Turkey at the Center for American Progress, says: “We have seen from experience that concern about Turkey’s reaction is always exaggerated. Turkey will spark rhetorical turmoil for a few days and possibly delay. carrying out certain routine requests of the United States Army. “(ANI)

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