Ankara: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that he condemned US President Joe Biden for admitting that the Armenian genocide was “baseless” and harmful to bilateral relations.
Erdogan issued a carefully worded statement before Biden made a landmark statement at a ceremony commemorating the tragic events of 1915-17 on Saturday.
But the Turkish president did not hold back his anger in a televised address that he also used to point out the US history of slavery and persecution of Native Americans.
“The US president has made comments that are groundless and unfair,” Erdogan said. “We believe that these comments were included in the declaration following pressure from radical Armenian groups and anti-Turkish circles. But this situation does not reduce the destructive impact of these comments.”
The Armenians — supported by historians and scholars — say 1.5 million of their people died in a genocide committed under the Ottoman Empire during World War I.
Ankara admitted that Armenians and Turks were killed in large numbers following the battle between the Ottoman Empire and Tsarist Russia. However, Turkey firmly denied the deliberate policy of genocide and pointed out that the term had not yet been legally defined at the time.
Biden called Erdogan for the first time since taking office in January, trying to calm the inevitable anger of the Turks.
The leaders of the two countries agreed in a conference call on Friday to meet during the NATO summit in June. But Erdogan said on Monday that Biden needed to “look in the mirror” when he called this century-old event genocide. Erdogan said: “We can also talk about what happened to Native Americans, blacks and Vietnam.”