“Today, we remember the one and a half million Armenians who were deported, massacred, or marched to their deaths in a campaign of extermination, and mourn the tragic loss of so many lives,” Biden said in a statement issued on the 107th anniversary of what he also called “one of the worst mass atrocities of the 20th century.”
“As we reflect on the Armenian genocide, we renew our pledge to remain vigilant against the corrosive influence of hate in all its forms,” he said. “We recommit ourselves to speaking out and stopping atrocities that leave lasting scars on the world.”
Biden again paid tribute to Armenian survivors of the genocide and their descendants.
“This is also a moment to reflect on the strength and resiliency of the Armenian people,” he said. “After enduring a genocide, the Armenian people were determined to rebuild their community and their culture, so often in new homes and new lands, including the United States. Armenian Americans are a vital part of the fabric of the United States.”
Biden issued a similar statement in April 2021, breaking with his predecessors’ policy of not using the word “genocide” for fear of antagonizing Turkey. His decision to reaffirm the genocide recognition prompted strong criticism from Ankara.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry said such declarations “distort historical facts with political motives.”
“Turkey respectfully commemorates the sufferings of all the Ottoman population, including the Armenians,” it said in a statement.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan alleged in 2019 that Armenians themselves massacred Muslim civilians and that their mass deportations to the Syrian desert was “the most reasonable action that could be taken” by the Ottoman government.
Armenia’s government did not immediately react to Biden’s statement.
The U.S. House of Representatives and Senate unanimously passed genocide resolutions in 2019 after decades of lobbying by Armenian-American advocacy groups. One of them, the Armenian Assembly of America, was quick to hail Biden’s latest declaration.
“Today’s statement reinforces that the Armenian Genocide is an institutional part of the American record and history,” the Assembly co-chairs, Anthony Barsamian and Van Krikorian, said in a joint statement.
The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) was less impressed by Biden’s move, saying that Washington should also counter grave security threats to Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh emanating from Turkey and Azerbaijan.
“President Biden’s record, sadly, reflects the letter but not the true spirit of genocide recognition,” said Aram Hamparian, the ANCA’s executive director. “No sustained pressure on Turkey to reckon with its present-day responsibilities, no confrontation of Azerbaijan’s genocidal violence against Artsakh (Karabakh), no forceful challenge to Ankara’s ongoing denial of this crime, no active support for U.S. educational programs. He can and must do better.”