Obama avoids use of 'genocide' again in marking Armenian commemoration

President Barack Obama again avoided using the term "genocide" to mark Armenian Remembrance Day.

"On this solemn day of remembrance, we pause to recall that ninety-five years ago one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century began," Obama said in a statement Saturday. "In that dark moment of history, 1.5 million Armenians were massacred or marched to their death in the final days of the Ottoman Empire.

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"Today is a day to reflect upon and draw lessons from these terrible events," the president continued. "I have consistently stated my own view of what occurred in 1915, and my view of that history has not changed. It is in all of our interest to see the achievement a full, frank and just acknowledgment of the facts."

Obama referred to "the inhumanity of 1915" and "the awful events of 1915" in the statement.

Obama had promised early in his presidential campaign that he would call the mass killings genocide if elected. "The facts are undeniable," Obama said in a Jan. 19, 2008, statement. "An official policy that calls on diplomats to distort the historical facts is an untenable policy. As a senator, I strongly support passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.Res.106 and S.Res.106), and as president I will recognize the Armenian Genocide."

Beginning early in his term, though, Obama avoided use of the word genocide when asked about his campaign promise during a press conference in Turkey.

His statement to commemorate Armenian Remembrance Day was closely watched this time last year, when Obama avoided use of the term in a statement very similar to the one released Saturday.

"Just as the terrible events of 1915 remind us of the dark prospect of man’s inhumanity to man, reckoning with the past holds out the powerful promise of reconciliation," Obama said in his April 2009 statement. "I have consistently stated my own view of what occurred in 1915, and my view of that history has not changed. My interest remains the achievement of a full, frank and just acknowledgment of the facts."


Saturday's statement comes on the heels of a row with Turkey over the House Foreign Affairs Committee passing a resolution March 4 to call the killings genocide.

Ambassadord Namık Tan was recalled to Turkey for a month. That touched off a verbal offensive from Ankara, too, with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan saying that the genocide resolution passed could harm bilateral relations and snapping that the lawmakers on the committee couldn't likely find Armenia.

"I salute the Turks who saved Armenians in 1915 and am encouraged by the dialogue among Turks and Armenians," Obama also said Saturday.