President Biden formally recognized the Armenian genocide on Saturday, in a statement coinciding with the Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day observed in that country.
“Each year on this day, 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 in a statement.
“We honor their story. We see that pain. We affirm the history,” Biden added. “We do this not to cast blame but to ensure that what happened is never repeated.”
Biden is the first U.S. president to follow through on a campaign promise to recognize the mass murder and ethnic cleansing of roughly 1 million Armenians by Ottoman forces during World War I as a genocide.
The declaration will likely complicate American relations with Turkey, a NATO member and ally of the U.S., which opposes the designation of genocide.
“Words cannot change history or rewrite it,” Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu wrote on Twitter following the announcement. “We will not be given lessons on our history from anyone. Political opportunism is the biggest betrayal of peace and justice. We completely reject this statement that is based on populism. #1915Events”
Biden informed Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday that he would recognize the genocide, according to the Associated Press. The call between Biden and Erdogan marked the first conversation between the two leaders since Biden assumed office in January.
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