Turkey denounced statements of the U.S. President Joe Biden regarding the 1915 events in the “strongest terms” Saturday.
“It is clear that the said statement does not have a scholarly and legal basis, nor is it supported by any evidence. With regards to the events of 1915, none of the conditions required for the use of the term ‘genocide’ that is strictly defined in international law are met,” Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
It noted that the nature of 1915 events doesn’t change according to the current political motives of the politicians or domestic political considerations.
The statement added that the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) confirmed the controversial nature of the 1915 events, adding that Turkey proposed in 2005 to Armenian side to establish a joint history commission in order to reach a just conclusion in light of historical facts of that period.
“Although Armenia has never responded to this proposal, it is still on the table. In this respect, the statement made by the President of the US, who is neither legally nor morally authorized to judge historical matters, has no value,” it said.
The Foreign Ministry also said that the U.S. statement will open a “deep wound that undermines our mutual trust and friendship.”
“We call on the US President to correct this grave mistake, which serves no purpose other than to satisfy certain political circles and to support the efforts aiming to establish a practice of peaceful coexistence in the region, especially among the Turkish and Armenian nations, instead of serving the agenda of those circles that try to foment enmity from history,” it said.
U.S. President Biden described the killings of Ottoman Armenians during World War I as “genocide” in a statement released Saturday, becoming the first U.S. president to use the controversial term.
Biden’s remarks came in a customary statement on the anniversary, a day after informing his Turkish counterpart President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that he was claimed to have acknowledged that he would go ahead with this step and seeking to limit the expected uproar from the NATO ally.
“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,” Biden said. “And we remember so that we remain ever-vigilant against the corrosive influence of hate in all its forms,” he said.
Later on Saturday, U.S. Ambassador to Ankara David Satterfield was summoned to the Foreign Ministry over the statement. A statement from the ministry said that Ankara’s strong reaction was to the envoy by Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Önal.
Rejecting Biden’s remarks, Turkey’s communications director said on Saturday that U.S. officials ignored history and bowed down to the demands of lobbyists.
Due to Washington’s attitude, Turkey is facing an “extremely” unfortunate and sad day in its ties with the U.S., said Fahrettin Altun in a statement.
The U.S. attitude on the events of 1915 is unrelated to historical facts but instead only reflects lobbying activities, he said.
‘Statement reflect slanders’
“We strongly reject and condemn this statement, which reflects the slanders of those who are malicious and whose only agenda is hostiity to our country,” Presidential Spokesperson Ibrahim Kalın said in a statement.
Kalın emphasized that the so-called “genocide” allegations lack any basis or scholarly evidence as required by international law.
“When our President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called for the establishment of a joint history commission to investigate the 1915 events, he wanted to save a historical issue from the shadow of politics and malicious circles. The U.S. president ignored these facts and took an unfair attitude,” said Kalın.
Stressing that historical events must be investigated by historians, Kalın said that these facts cannot be determined by the narrow interests of a political context.
Stating that Turkey belongs to a civilization that represents the most important example in the history of the culture of coexistence, he added that Turkey never shrinks from confronting historical reality.
“The losses experienced in World War I represent the shared pains of this region. However, it is a historical mistake to act with the mindset of radical Armenian lobbies that produce nothing but terror and hostility,” Kalin said.
Biden’s statement is based on unfounded allegations that threaten to damage normalization efforts between Turkey and Armenia, he warned.
“We invite the US president to correct this unfortunate statement that would open deep wounds in Turkish-US relations and instead show an attitude that is fair and would serve regional peace,” he added.
Turkey will continue to strongly defend the truth against those who misrepresents the historical facts, Kalın said.
Speaking on the issue, Turkish parliament speaker said Saturday that Biden’s statement is merely “a political statement with no legal basis.”
“None of the conditions specified in the law exist for the 1915 events to be defined as genocide,” said Mustafa Şentop, while visiting grave sites in the Turkish capital Ankara of diplomats and their families killed by Armenian terrorist groups.
“This concept, indicating a clearly defined crime, can only be issued by a competent court, as stated in the 1948 Genocide Convention,” he added.
He went on to say that Armenia resorted to parliaments of third countries plus regional and international groups to politicize history after having failed to achieve any success in recognizing its claims on a historical or legal basis.
Şentop also said Armenia’s “genocide” claims contradict historical facts and “overshadow efforts to normalize relations between Turkey and Armenia.”
He underlined that the principle “do the messenger no harm,” which prevailed in diplomacy for centuries, was violated by Armenian terrorist groups during the assassination of dozens of Turkish diplomats in previous decades.
“The responsibility for these (terrorist) actions has been accepted by these groups, and it should be enough to shame the states that most of the suspects have not been properly judged,” he added.
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Spokesperson Faik Öztrak said in statement that Biden remarks not only damaged relations between Ankara and Washington but also peace efforts in entire Southern Caucasus.
“U.S. President Joe Biden’s description of the painful events of 1915 as “genocide” has gone down in history as a great mistake,” Öztrak said, adding the trauma suffered by both Turks and Armenians over 1915 events cannot be overcome by such statements causing new tensions but with working for steps to heal common pain.
Good Party (IP) Chairperson Meral Akşener described Biden’s statement as a heavy attack targeting the Turkish nation’s honor and dignity, saying it is inevitable for the use of the term “genocide” to damage Turkish-U.S. relations.
Both Öztrak and Akşener accused the government for its “passive” stance against the U.S.
Turkish-U.S. relations are at risk of taking a negative turn after Biden’s “scandalous” statement, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Chair Devlet Bahçeli said on Twitter. Turkey’s history is faultless in this regard as on other issues and it owes no proof to anyone in this context, he said, adding that the slanderous campaign founded around the events of 1915 is both unfounded and untrue.
“The reason for the need for deportation (of Armenians), and the needs and national security considerations from which it arose, should be interpreted primarily in the context of the dark, bloody conditions of World War I,” he added.