The White House proclamation immediately led to statements of condemnation from Turkish officials, although Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has not yet raised the issue.
Turkey rejects the use of the word, saying that both Turks and Armenians were killed in the fighting in World War I. She has called a joint history commission to investigate. American presidents have for years avoided using “genocide” to describe what Armenians call Meds Yeghern, or the great crime.
The announcement comes as Turkish-US relations suffer from a number of problems. The US sanctioned Turkish defense officials and banned Turkey from a fighter aircraft program after the NATO member bought the Russia-made S400 defense system. Ankara is frustrated with Washington’s support for Syrian Kurdish fighters in the context of an uprising Turkey has fought for decades. Turkey has also called for the extradition of Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish clergyman accused of orchestrating a bloody attempted coup against Erdogan’s government in 2016. Gulen lives in the USA and denies involvement.
Erdogan and Biden spoke on the phone on Friday for the first time since the US election on Friday.
Ibrahim Kalin, the president’s spokesman, tweeted on Sunday: “President Erdogan opened the Turkish National Archives and called for a joint historical committee to investigate the events of 1915, to which Armenia never responded. It’s a shame that @POTUS ignored this simple fact and took an irresponsible and unprincipled position. “