Ankara, Apr 26 (EFE).- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday said US counterpart Joe Biden’s remarks about the 1915 massacres of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire were “incorrect and unfounded.”
“Biden has made incorrect and unfounded remarks about something that happened over 100 years ago,” Erdogan said after the president of the United States on Saturday described the massacres as a “genocide.”
“This saddens us. We know that he has done it due to pressure from radical Armenian groups, but this doesn’t change the fact that it will harm our relations,” he added in a televised speech.
“I hope the United States will rectify its mistake as soon as possible. These steps do not help the Armenian community. We want to build a good neighborly relationship with Armenia, but the American decision spoils (those plans),” he added.
Erdogan listed different areas of disagreement in US-Turkish relations, including the presence in the US state of Pennsylvania of exiled Islamic scholar and preacher Fethullah Gulen – whom the Turkish government accuses of instigating a failed July 2016 coup – and a US ban on the sale of F-35 stealth fighters to Turkey following its purchase of Russian S-400 air-defense system.
“This latest incident has made everything worse and has lowered the level of strategic relations,” he said.
“I will discuss all of this with Biden face to face when we meet in June. I’ll remind him that we know one other: he visited me at my house when I was sick. How can he poison relations with Turkey?” he added.
Turkey acknowledges that large numbers of Armenian Christian citizens of what was then still the Ottoman Empire died starting in 1915, during World War I, but it vehemently rejects any suggestion that the deaths were due to a deliberate, systematic attempt to eliminate Armenians as a nation.
Many historians, however, regard the 1.5 million deaths that occurred amid the Ottomans’ mass deportation of Armenians from their ancestral lands to Syria as the first genocide of the 20th century.
Some perished from hunger or illness, yet many of the victims were killed outright by Ottoman troops.
More than two-dozen nations have formally designated the events of 1915 as a genocide and a succession of US presidents, beginning with Ronald Reagan in the 1980s, spoke of doing likewise only to desist out of concerns about damaging ties with NATO ally Turkey. EFE