On Friday President Biden informed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a phone call that the White House will formally recognize the Armenian genocide on Saturday.
Biden is expected to for the first time specifically invoke the word “genocide” in the Saturday commemoration of Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, which will make him the first ever US president to do so.
This has been among the most controversial topics in modern Turkish society, and throughout past decades, which is subject in some cases to criminal prosecution by the Turkish state. And it remains a Turkish ‘red line’ for which all the country’s recent modern leaders have reacted fiercely at the mere suggestion, and which only thirty countries in the world officially acknowledge. The Untied States will now the be the 31st, and likely more will follow the example of the Biden move.
A no doubt stung and angry Turkish leader had this statement following the tense call, which simply acknowledged the two leaders spoke on a “constructive bilateral relationship with expanded areas of cooperation and effective management of disagreements” – yet without recognizing the contentious Armenian issue.
Given this will see US-Turkey relations spiral further downward, the Turkish lira plunged to its weakest point since November on the news Friday afternoon…
As Bloomberg notes, the lira fell as much as 1% to 8.4050 per dollar Friday afternoon, which is “the weakest level since March 30, after report that President Biden tells his Turkish counterpart Erdogan that he will call Armenian Massacre a genocide.”
Congressional leaders as well as Armenian-Americans have for decades lobbied for greater recognition of the event which was carried out by the Young Turk government during the World War I period. It saw the the mass systematic killing of over one million Armenians in Asia Minor from 1915-1917 at the end of the Ottoman Empire. Hundreds of thousands of Greek and Assyrian Christians were also slaughtered in the name of achieving ‘Turkification’. However, the term itself has for years been banned in Turkey’s parliament and results in swift crackdowns and legal measures for any journalist wishing to write about it within the country.
Procession commemorating the Armenian genocide in Aleppo today pic.twitter.com/KfbCg8Srgz
— Lindsey Snell (@LindseySnell) April 23, 2021
Turkey’s longtime pressure campaign has worked in many Western countries. For example, the Trump administration had blocked a 2019 bipartisan Congressional effort to pass legislation recognizing the Armenian genocide. Thus Biden’s recognition will mark a major break from all predecessors, who didn’t want to rile relations with the powerful NATO ally.