US President Joe Biden’s statement that the death of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire amounted to genocide is “simply scandalous” and will receive a response from Turkey in the coming days, Ibrahim Kalin, adviser and spokesperson said Sunday. word of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Erdogan himself is expected to address the issue at a cabinet meeting on Monday (26), according to Kalin. “There will be a reaction of different forms, types and degrees in the days and months to come,” the adviser told Reuters news agency. On Saturday (24), the day the 106th anniversary of the genocide was commemorated, Biden broke with decades of carefully calibrated comments from his predecessors in the White House on the 1.5 million dead in Armenia since 1915.
“We honor her story. We see this pain. We affirm the story. We don’t do it to blame, but to make sure that what happened does not happen again,” said the American, in a speech which finds the support of the Armenians but which represents the imposition of obstacles to the relations between the United States and Turkey, both members of NATO, the military alliance of the West.
Kalin did not say what action the Erdogan government might take in retaliation in the United States, but it is suspected, among other reactions, that Ankara will restrict Washington’s access to Incirlik airbase in southern Turkey. . The facilities were used to support the international coalition fighting the Islamic State terrorist group in Syria and Iraq.
“At a time and place we deem appropriate, we will continue to respond to this unfortunate and unfair statement,” Erdogan’s spokesperson said. As soon as Biden made his statement, Kalin himself and other Turkish government officials quickly condemned the classification of genocide.
“We advise the US president to look at the past and present of his own country,” said the adviser, who saw in Biden’s speech “only a repetition of those whose only agenda is enmity against Turkey”. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu rejected the statement, which he said was based on populism. “We have nothing to learn from anyone in our past. Political expediency is the greatest betrayal of peace and justice.”
The Cavusoglu-led portfolio said it summoned U.S. Ambassador to Ankara David Satterfield to demonstrate its displeasure with Biden’s statement. “This statement by the United States, which distorts the historical facts, will never be accepted in the conscience of the Turkish people and will open a deep wound which undermines our mutual trust and our friendship,” Turkish diplomacy said in a statement.
However, relations between Ankara and Washington have been in turmoil for some time. The US government has imposed sanctions on Turkey for the purchase of Russian air defenses, while Erdogan accuses the US of supporting “terrorists” for supporting Kurdish militias, such as the Popular Protection Units ( YPG).
“The statements by the United States are deplorable. They say they do not support the terrorists, but they are in fact on their side,” Erdogan said in a speech in February. “If we are together in NATO and if they want NATO unity to be preserved, we must act with sincerity.”
The US government’s denials of extradition requests by Pastor Fethullah Gülen, who has been in the United States for more than 20 years, also has a bitter taste for Erdogan. The Turkish leader accuses Gülen of inventing an unsuccessful attempt to get him out of power in 2016.
Dealing with these disputes will now be even more difficult, Kalin said. “Everything we do with the United States will be influenced by this unfortunate statement.” According to the adviser, the Turkish parliament is also expected to speak on the subject this week.
Analysts believe that the reprisals of parliamentarians will be rhetorical, classifying as genocide, for example, the treatment of Native Americans during the period of colonization.
According to Kalin, US officials told Turks that Biden’s statement did not represent a legal basis for descendants of Armenian victims to resort to international law for damages. However, Erdogan told Biden, when speaking on the phone last Friday (23), that the American would be making a “colossal mistake” if he continued his statement.
“To reduce it all to one word and try to imply that the Turks were involved, or that our Ottoman ancestors were involved in acts of genocide, is just outrageous and has no basis in historical fact,” Kalin said. .
Officially, Turkey acknowledges that 300,000 to 400,000 people died, but claims the deaths occurred in the context of World War I (1914-1918), when the Armenians supported Russia, and not as a result of ‘a deliberate policy of extermination.
Thus, the case would not meet the criterion of intentionality in the definition of genocide established by the United Nations (UN) in 1948. In that year, the entity determined that any act committed with intent to destroy the whole would be considered genocide. Or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group. ”Among these acts, the UN provides not only for killings, but also to cause serious physical or mental harm, to deliberately inflict living conditions to cause a physical destruction, impose measures to prevent births within a certain group and transfer children from one group to another.
Erdogan fervently denies that a genocide took place and has already broadcast criticism to other world leaders who have described the deaths in Armenia in this way, including Pope Francis.
The denial of the genocide is even in textbooks in Turkey, which describe the Armenians of this period as traitors. Turkish citizens who choose to use the term can be criminally prosecuted for defamation of the country.
Most historians, however, recognize that there was state policy in the dead and see this episode in Armenian history as the first genocide of the 20th century, a view reinforced by the International Association of Genocide Specialists. . There are even Turkish experts who share this position. Violence against Armenians began at the start of the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. Aligned with Germany during World War I, the Ottomans wanted to prevent the Armenians from siding with Russia and ordered massive deportations.
Armenia estimates that 1.5 million people died of starvation, killed by Ottoman soldiers or by the police. Hundreds of thousands of survivors, forced to leave their territory, took refuge in Russia, the United States, Brazil and several other countries.