Turkey slams US over Armenian Genocide recognition
The US ambassador to Turkey, David Satterfield, has been summoned to Ankara over the US Senate’s resolution calling the slaughter of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians during the First World War a genocide.
Turkey disputes the Armenian death toll and says all ethnic groups died as a result of wartime unrest.
The Turkish government acknowledges that many Armenians were killed by the Ottoman authorities but it rejects the term genocide.
Ankara argues that the Armenian death toll was much lower than reported and that people on both sides died as a result of wartime unrest.
Turkey’s parliament has hit back at the US Senate.
“As the Turkish Grand National Assembly, we strongly condemn and reject the US Senate-approved decision on the so-called Armenian Genocide which distorts historical facts and flouts the fundamental rules of international law,” said the parliamentary statement.
“The decision, which lacks any legal value … is part of a dirty game,” it said.
The US Senate’s unanimous vote on Thursday followed the 405-to-11 vote by the House of Representatives to back the resolution in October to “commemorate the Armenian Genocide through official recognition and remembrance”.
The policy, which is not legally binding, officially rejects Turkey’s denials of its genocide against Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Syriacs, Arameans, Maronites and other Christian communities.
The resolution calls on the US authorities to “reject efforts to enlist, engage, or otherwise associate the United States government with denial of the Armenian Genocide or any other genocide”.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan the US decision was a “victory of justice and truth”.
“On behalf of the Armenian people, I express gratitude to the US Congress,” he tweeted, adding that “courageous step towards the prevention of genocides in future”.
He said international recognition of the Armenian Genocide was important in terms of recording historic truths and as an important component of the global movement for preventing genocides.
Germany and France have also recognised the massacres between 1915 and 1923 as genocide.
“The behaviour of some members of the US Congress is damaging the Turkish-American ties,” tweeted Turkey’s presidential spokesman Fahrettin Altun.
Forced marches into Syrian deserts formed part of the Ottoman Empire’s mass deportation of Armenians, which many historians see as designed to kill civilians during the journey.
Mazloum Abdi, the commander of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, tweeted that the US resolution would prevent Turkey massacring Kurds in northeast Syria.
“This is a clear message that genocide campaigns are not possible in the 21st century. This decision will stop Turkey from committing massacres against the Kurdish people and stop its invasion of Rojava,” tweeted Abdi, using the Kurdish name for northeastern Syria.