Biden’s remarks on 1915 events based on ‘lies, misinformation’: Erdoğan

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President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Monday criticized recent remarks by his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden regarding the 1915 events, stressing they were based on distorted and unreliable information.

In a televised address following a Cabinet meeting, Erdoğan called on Biden to “learn the history” concerning the Armenians, insisted that such statements were “provoking enmity” between the Turkish and Armenian people and maintained that the Armenian people would suffer the most from the “hypocrisy.”

“Statements relating to the Armenian claims … are of no effect to us,” Erdoğan said. “This is how we see the statement of the U.S. president, and we do not even find it worth dwelling on because it is all based on lies and false information.”

Turkey objects to presenting the 1915 incidents as “genocide” and instead describes the events as a tragedy in which both Turks and Armenians suffered casualties in the heat of World War I.

Biden last year recognized the 1915 events as a “genocide,” a move condemned by Turkey and declared null and void.

On Sunday, Biden issued a statement marking the 107th anniversary of the start of the “genocide,” a declaration Ankara said was “incompatible with historical facts and international law.”

Erdoğan said Biden’s statements counter the historical realities and have no meaning for Ankara.

“The U.S. president should learn and know history very well,” Erdoğan said. “We cannot forgive this attempt aiming to challenge Turkey in the absence of such (historical) knowledge.”

The president said such statements on the events of 1915, which “are supposedly recognized by various countries’ governments and parliaments,” do not affect Turkey.

In a message he sent on Sunday to the head of the Armenian Patriarchate in Istanbul, Erdoğan said Turks and Armenians have co-existed for centuries.

Addressing the Turkish Armenian community gathered at the Istanbul Armenian Patriarchate to honor the Ottoman Armenians who died in the “harsh conditions” of World War I, Erdoğan said: “I, once again, remember with respect the late Ottoman Armenians, and offer my sincere condolences to their relatives.”

Turkey’s position on the events of 1915 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.

The country has repeatedly proposed the creation of a joint commission of historians from Turkey and Armenia, as well as international experts, to tackle the issue.

In 2014, Erdoğan – then prime minister, now president – expressed his condolences to the descendants of Armenians who lost their lives in the events of 1915.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Turkey was one of the first countries to recognize Armenia’s independence on Sept. 21, 1991.

But, following the 1993 occupation by Armenian forces of the Nagorno-Karabakh region, internationally recognized as Azerbaijani territory, the border between the two countries was closed.

On Oct. 10, 2009, Turkey and Armenia signed a peace accord, known as the Zurich Protocols, to establish diplomatic relations and open the border, but failed to ratify the agreement in their respective national parliaments.

Relations between Ankara and Yerevan entered a new phase in the fall of 2020 with the end of the second Nagorno-Karabakh war, which lasted 44 days in which Turkey helped Azerbaijan recapture its territory.

Erdoğan has said Turkey is ready for dialogue with Armenia. Azerbaijan also supports the process.

Turkey and Armenia have since appointed special representatives, Serdar Kılıç and Ruben Rubinyan, who first met on Jan. 14 in Moscow. Their second meeting was held in Vienna on Feb. 24, after which both sides “reiterated their agreement to continue the process without preconditions.”


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