In an apparent bid to please Turkey, angered at the U.S. Congress’ recent move to recognise the Armenian genocide, the government of Donald Trump made clear on Tuesday that it was still against the use of the word “genocide,” rejected by Ankara, to qualify the 1915 massacres.
“The position of the administration has not changed,” State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortague said in a brief press release. “Our views are reflected in the President’s definitive statement on this issue from last April.”
In Spring, at the commemoration of the massacres of Armenians in Turkey, Donald Trump had referred to “one of the worst mass atrocities of the 20th Century” but stopped short of using the word “genocide”.
Last week the U.S. Congress formally adopted a resolution to commemorate the “Armenian genocide” by recognising it as such. Passed on 29 October by the House of Representatives, the resolution was approved on Thursday 12 December by the Senate.
Ankara immediately expressed anger at the move, summoning the U.S. Ambassador and explaining that the vote endangered the future of relations between the two countries.
An estimated 1.2 million to 1.5 million Armenians were killed during World War I by troops of the Ottoman Empire, then allied to Germany and Austria-Hungary. Turkey, which resulted from the dismantling of the Empire in 1920, recognises the killings but refuses the term “genocide”, claiming there was a civil war in Anatolia coupled with a famine, in which 300,000 to 500,000 Armenians and as many Turks died.
The Armenians have been trying to get the international community to recognise the existence of a genocide.
Their position is supported by numerous historians and academics, who have concluded that the deportation and massacres of Armenians during World War I conform to the legal definition of genocide.