Joe Biden is the first US President to formally recognise the systematic killing of over a million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire during the First World War, as genocide.
In a statement marking Armenian Remembrance Day, Biden wrote:
"We remember the lives of all those who died in the Ottoman-era Armenian genocide and recommit ourselves to preventing such an atrocity from ever again occurring."
"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 statement added.
Read his full statement here.
Turkey's Ministry of Foreign Affairs slammed Biden's statement, claiming that it "does not have a scholarly and legal basis, nor is it supported by any evidence."
While Turkey recognises that Armenians were killed by the Ottoman empire, they reject that the deaths constitute a genocide and contest the total number of deaths.
In their statement, Turkey called on Biden to "correct this grave mistake, which serves no purpose other than to satisfy certain political circles."
Biden's statement was denounced by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, who tweeted:
“Words cannot change or rewrite history.”
We have nothing to learn from anybody on our own past. Political opportunism is the greatest betrayal to peace and justice.
We entirely reject this statement based solely on populism.#1915Events
— Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu (@MevlutCavusoglu) April 24, 2021
Biden fulfilled his pledge as a candidate to recognise the Armenian genocide. Biden's predecessors refrained from making a formal recognition due to Turkey’s status as a NATO member and longtime regional ally.