Turkey summons US ambassador to protest Armenian genocide declaration

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Turkey’s foreign ministry summoned the U.S. ambassador on Saturday to condemn President Biden’s declaration that the killings and forced displacement of Armenians during the Ottoman Empire constituted a genocide.

The Associated Press reported that Turkish officials expressed their displeasure with Biden’s decision after the president released a statement claiming that the U.S. does not “cast blame” for the genocide, which the U.S. stressed did not occur under Turkey’s modern-day government.

“The statement does not have legal ground in terms of international law and has hurt the Turkish people, opening a wound that’s hard to fix in our relations,” said the foreign ministry in a statement, according to the AP.

A spokesman for Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also said in a tweet on Sunday that Biden’s position was “irresponsible and unprincipled.”

“President Erdoğan opened Turkey’s national archives & called for a joint historical committee to investigate the events of 1915, to which Armenia never responded. It is a pity @POTUS has ignored, among others, this simple fact and taken an irresponsible and unprincipled position.”

The decision by Biden to go further than previous presidents and declare the killings a genocide is likely to further stress tensions with Turkey, a NATO ally, which is currently the target of U.S. sanctions over the procurement of a Russian missile defense system.

“We honor the victims of the Meds Yeghern so that the horrors of what happened are never lost to history. And we remember so that we remain ever-vigilant against the corrosive influence of hate in all its forms,” said the president in a statement Saturday condemning the mass killings.

Biden spoke with Erdoğan on Friday, a day before the declaration, in his first conversation with the Turkish leader as president.

A State Department spokeswoman also stressed the importance of the U.S.-Turkey relationship last week.

“Turkey is a valued and long-standing NATO ally and we obviously have shared interests and those shared interests include, of course, counterterrorism, ending the conflict in Syria as well as deterring any malign influence in the region,” said Jalina Porter.

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