U.S. President Donald Trump on April 24 issued a statement on the 105th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire a century ago.
As in previous years, the Trump administration described mass killings from 1915 to 1923 using the Armenian term “Meds Yeghern,” which means “Great Disaster,” again refraining from using the word “genocide.”
“Today, we join the global community in memorializing the lives lost during the Meds Yeghern, one of the worst mass atrocities of the 20th century. Beginning in 1915, 1 and a half million Armenians were deported, massacred, or marched to their deaths in the final years of the Ottoman Empire,” Trump said in the statement.
“On this day of remembrance, we pay respect to those who suffered and lost their lives, while also renewing our commitment to fostering a more humane and peaceful world.”
Successive U.S. presidents have refrained from calling the mass killings as “genocide.” Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, had promised Armenian Armenians during his 2008 presidential campaign that he would recognize the genocide but reneged once in office.
Obama adopted the Armenian phrase “Meds Yeghern,” a practice repeated by Trump.
In defiance of both Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the U.S. Senate on Dec. 12, 2019 voted unanimously to recognize the genocide of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire.
The Senate resolution formally acknowledged the mass killing of Armenians as an act of genocide. Coming after a similar measure adopted in October by the House of Representatives, this marked the culmination of more than 50 years of campaigning by Armenian Americans.
Following the U.S. Senate’s move, the U.S. State Department made clear that Trump is not in agreement with Congress on the Armenian genocide.
“The position of the Administration has not changed,“ U.S. State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement on Dec. 17, 2019. “Our views are reflected in the President’s definitive statement on this issue from last April.”
Turkey lashes out at Trump statement on Armenian Genocide
Meanwhile, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry lashed out at Trump’s statement on April 24, saying the U.S. president’s remarks were “based on a subjective narrative which Armenians try to turn into a dogma.”
“This statement, made with domestic political considerations has no validity for us. We reject the claims put forward in this statement,” it said.
“We observe that the suffering of more than 500 thousand Muslims who were massacred by Armenian rebels in the same period was insistently ignored in this statement. This understanding which is deprived of justice and equity needs to be changed from now on.”
Turkey accepts that many Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire were killed in clashes with Ottoman forces during World War One, but contests the figures and denies that the killings were systematically orchestrated and constitute a genocide.