Turkey’s President Erdogan says US President Biden’s “unfounded” statement on 1915 events has a “destructive impact” on Turkey-US ties, calling on Biden to turn back from “this wrong step as soon as possible.”
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has denounced US President Joe Biden’s “genocide” label of the 1915 Armenian events as “groundless” and called for Washington to reverse the “wrong steps”.
“The US president has made comments that are groundless and unfair,” Erdogan said in televised remarks on Monday, warning that they could have a “destructive impact” on Turkish-US ties.
“We believe that these comments were included in the declaration following pressure from radical Armenian groups and anti-Turkish circles. But this situation does not reduce the destructive impact of these comments.”
Turkey’s position is that the deaths of Armenians in eastern Anatolia took place when some sided with invading Russians and revolted against Ottoman forces. A subsequent relocation of Armenians resulted in numerous casualties.
Turkey objects to the presentation of these incidents as “genocide,” describing them as a tragedy in which both sides suffered casualties.
Ankara has repeatedly proposed the creation of a joint commission of historians from Turkey and Armenia as well as international experts to tackle the issue.
“Only historians can illuminate such events,” said Erdogan on Monday, adding Turkey received no response from Armenia on offer to set up a joint history committee.
On Saturday, Biden called the events of 1915 a “genocide,” breaking with American presidents’ long-held tradition of refraining from using the term.
‘Look in the mirror’
Biden tried to temper the inevitable Turkish anger by calling Erdogan for the first time since taking office in January.
The two leaders agreed in Friday’s phone call to meet on the sidelines of a NATO summit in June.
But Erdogan said on Monday that Biden needed “to look in the mirror” when calling the century-old events a “genocide.”
“We can also talk about what happened to Native Americans, Blacks and in Vietnam,” Erdogan said.
“The level of Turkish-US relations has regressed,” Erdogan said.
But he added on a more optimistic note that he was “convinced that a new door can be opened when we meet in June” at the NATO meeting in Brussels.
Erdogan dares US, EU to make archives public
Investigating historical events and revealing the truth should be left to experts, historians, not to politicians, said the Turkish president.
He said there are mass graves of Turks massacred by Armenians in many places, “but nowhere can you find mass graves belonging to Armenians.”
There is neither concrete evidence regarding Armenian allegations, nor any international court decision, he said.
Even in US reports, number of those subjected to relocation and resettlement is 600,000 at most, while actual number is lower, Erdogan said, daring US and Europe to make documents on 1915 events in their archives public “if there are any.”
A century ago, over 80 percent of population in present-day Armenia were Muslims, but today there are almost none, Turkish president added.
Earlier on Monday, Turkish Parliament Speaker Mustafa Sentop also rejected Biden’s recent remarks.
“As the speaker of the Turkish parliament, I reject this great slander [of Biden] against our state, nation and history. I want to remind the officials of the countries, especially those with a criminal record of crimes against humanity, racism and genocide in their history, to be very careful when talking about Turkey,” Sentop told in an event in the capital Ankara.
There is no new scientific and historic finding or new evaluation, Sentop said.
“The only thing that changes in the political decision [of the US on the 1915 events],” he said.