BIDEN EXPECTED TO RECOGNIZE ARMENIAN MASSACRE AS GENOCIDE
US President Joe Biden is expected to formally recognize the massacre of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire during World War I as an act of genocide, sources said on Wednesday, a move likely to infuriate Turkey and further strain already frayed ties between the two NATO allies.
The move would be largely symbolic but would mean breaking away from decades of carefully-calibrated language from the White House and come at a time when Ankara and Washington are already at loggerheads over a string of issues, Trevor Hunnicutt, Humeyra Pamuk, and Arshad Mohammed reported for Reuters.
Biden is likely going to use the word "genocide" as part of a statement on April 24 when annual commemorations for the victims are held around the world, three sources familiar with the matter said.
"My understanding is that he took the decision and will use the word genocide in his statement on Saturday," said a source familiar with the matter.
Sources cautioned that given the importance of bilateral ties with Turkey, Biden may still choose not to use the term at the last minute.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Wednesday told reporters the White House would likely have "more to say" about the issue on Saturday but declined to elaborate.
The State Department referred queries on the issue to the White House and National Security Council had no comment beyond what Psaki said.
A year ago, while still a presidential candidate, Biden commemorated the 1.5 million Armenian men, women, and children who lost their lives in the final years of the Ottoman Empire and said he would back efforts to recognize those killings as a genocide.
"Today, we remember the atrocities faced by the Armenian people in the Metz Yeghern — the Armenian Genocide. If elected, I pledge to support a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide and will make universal human rights a top priority," he said on Twitter at the time.
Turkey accepts that many Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire were killed in clashes with Ottoman forces during World War I, but contests the figures and denies the killings were systematically orchestrated and constitute a genocide.