What did Joe Biden say about Armenian genocide?

PRESIDENT Joe Biden formally recognized the millions of Armenians killed by the Ottoman Empire in the early 20th century as a "genocide".

Biden followed through on a campaign promise he made a year ago and recognized the genocide that took place from 1915 to 1923.

What did Joe Biden say about Armenian genocide?

On Saturday, April 24, President Biden recognized the systemic killing of 1.5million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire as an act of genocide.

The event has been long recognized as such among Armenian-Americans.

"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.

"We honor the victims of the Meds Yeghern so that the horrors of what happened are never lost to history," said a statement released by the White House on Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day.

"Over the decades Armenian immigrants have enriched the United States in countless ways, but they have never forgotten the tragic history that brought so many of their ancestors to our shores.

"We honor their story. We see that pain. We affirm the history. We do this not to cast blame but to ensure that what happened is never repeated," the statement continued.

Biden promised during the campaign to label the killings a genocide. 

However, previous presidents have backed off on similar pledges amid fears it would jeopardize US-Turkey relations.

What happened on April 24, 1915?

The Armenian genocide began in 1915 during World War I, as Turkish leaders began to murder and deport hundreds of thousands of Armenians from the Ottoman Empire.

Leaders of the Armenian community in the Ottoman capital of Constantinople (now Istanbul), and later other locations, were arrested and moved to two holding centers near Angora (now Ankara).

On that night, the first wave of 235 to 270 Armenian intellectuals of Constantinople were arrested.

With the adoption of the Tehcir Law on May, 29 1915, these detainees were later relocated within the Ottoman Empire, where most of them were ultimately killed.

While the modern-day Turkish government has taken steps to address the atrocities, it has refused to recognize the scope of the killings and disputes it was a genocide.

What did the Turkish foreign minister say about calling the day a 'genocide'?

On April 20, Turkey's foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Biden would "harm ties" if he made the genocide declaration.

"Statements that have no legal binding will have no benefit, but they will harm ties," Cavusoglu told the Turkish broadcaster Haberturk.

"If the United States wants to worsen ties, the decision is theirs," he said.

The US-Turkey alliance has deeply strained in recent years, particularly after Turkey's 2019 invasion of Syria.

Biden spoke with Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan on April 23, the first conversation between the two.

The White House said Biden expressed "his interest in a constructive bilateral relationship" and "effective management of disagreements."

The White House account did not mention the genocide issue but said Biden and Erdogan agreed to meet on margins of a NATO Summit in June.

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