Turkey summoned the US ambassador after President Joe Biden decided to recognize the Armenian genocide in a memorial day statement.
The country’s foreign ministry has called the American ambassador in Ankara, the capital of Turkey, to protest the description of the murder of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turks from 1915 onwards.
Deputy Foreign Secretary Sedat Onal met with David Satterfield late Saturday to express Ankara’s harsh condemnation.
“The declaration has no international legal basis and has injured the Turkish people and opened a wound that is difficult to repair in our relations,” the ministry said.
The White House broke with previous governments in adopting the phrase, with American presidents long avoiding the use of the term so as not to upset a key ally in the region
“Every year on this day we remember the lives of all those who were killed in the Armenian genocide in the Ottoman era, and we re-commit ourselves to preventing such an atrocity from ever happening again,” Biden said in the explanation.
He added: “As of April 24, 1915, with the arrest of Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Constantinople by the Ottoman authorities, one and a half million Armenians were deported, massacred or marched to their deaths in an extermination campaign.
The President concluded: “The American people honor all those Armenians who were killed in the genocide that began 106 years ago today.”
Today’s Turkey, emerging from the Ottoman era, has always denied that genocide occurred.
They oppose the use of the word, saying that both Turks and Armenians were killed, and calling for a joint history commission to investigate.
The White House statement immediately led to statements of condemnation from Turkish officials. However, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan still has to deal with the issue.
Mr Biden promised in his 2020 campaign to recognize the genocide. Former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush made similar promises, but labeled them “mass atrocity” or “mass murder”.
Additional coverage by the Associated Press