Biden calls Turkey’s Erdogan ahead of possible Armenian genocide recognition
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Turkey’s leader on Tuesday called on President Biden to reverse his declaration on Armenian genocide, saying it will hurt the relationship between the two countries and that the US should “look in the mirror” at how it treated Native Americans.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in his first public comments about the 1915 massacre since Biden’s statement on Saturday, said the “wrong step” could harm ties between the US and Turkey.
“The US president has made baseless, unjust and untrue remarks about the sad events that took place in our geography over a century ago,” Erdogan said after a cabinet meeting. “I hope the US president will turn back from this wrong step as soon as possible.”
Erdogan urged Turkish and Armenian historians to form a commission to examine the incident.
Biden, in a statement released Saturday on Armenian Remembrance Day, recognized the mass killings during World War I by Ottoman Turks.
“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,” the president said.
Erdogan accused the US of remaining on the sidelines and not intervening to halt the fighting between Azerbaijani troops and Armenian secessionists in Nagorno-Karabakh, a conflict being mediated by Russia and France.
He also raised America’s history.
“If you say genocide, then you need to look at yourselves in the mirror and make an evaluation. The Native Americans, I don’t even need to mention them, what happened is clear,” Erdogan said. “While all these truths are out there, you cannot pin the genocide accusation on the Turkish people.”
The Armenian genocide happened during the fighting in World War I and the final period of the Ottoman Empire.
Turkish leaders sided with Germany in the war and blamed the Armenians for backing the Russians, claiming they were a threat to the declining empire.
As many as 1.5 million Armenians were killed in the bloodshed.
Turkey has acknowledged that Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire died in fighting with troops, but contest the casualty count.
Erdogan said around 150,000 people had been killed, claiming the toll was “exaggerated by adding a zero to the end.”
With Post wires
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