The administration of President Donald Trump distanced itself on Tuesday from the U.S. Senate’s landmark resolution recognizing the 1915 Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey.
“The position of the Administration has not changed,” the U.S. State Department spokeswoman, Morgan Ortagus, said in a short statement on the resolution which the Senate adopted by unanimous consent on December 12.
“Our views are reflected in the President’s definitive statement on this issue from last April,” she added.
Like his predecessors, Trump has avoided using the word genocide in his annual statements on the mass killings and deportations of Armenians. He has spoken instead of “one of the worst mass atrocities of the 20th century.”
Trump apparently made no attempts to stop the Democrat-led House of Representatives from recognizing the genocide in late October after decades of lobbying by the Armenian community in the United States. But he did try to scuttle the passage of a similar resolution by the Republican-controlled Senate.
For three consecutive weeks the Senate resolution was blocked by Republican senators at the behest of the White House concerned about its damage to U.S.-Turkish relations. The two main co-sponsors of the measure, Democrat Bob Menendez and Republican Ted Cruz, faced no more objections when they presented it on the Senate floor for the fourth time.
The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) was quick to criticize Trump’s refusal to also characterize the First World War-era slaughter of some 1.5 million Armenians as genocide.
“How long will Trump remain loyal to [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan, enforcing Ankara’s Turkey First veto against honest American remembrance of the extermination & exile of millions of Christian martyrs, after 95% of Republicans … backed the Armenian Genocide Resolution?” the ANCA wrote on Twitter.
In a separate tweet, the lobby group expressed confidence that the genocide’s recognition by the U.S. administration is “just a matter of time.”
Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian thanked the Senate and the House for the “historic”genocideresolutions on December 13.
By contrast, the Turkish government strongly condemned the Senate action, with Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu calling it a “political show” that “has no validity whatsoever.”