Biden speaks to Erdogan as questions about the Armenian genocide approach

Washington — President Joe Biden met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday. Biden prepared to proceed with a campaign pledge to formally acknowledge that the atrocities committed by the Ottoman Empire against Armenians more than a century ago were genocide.

The US and Turkish governments did not mention the impending decision to approve the Armenian Genocide in separate statements on the call. However, the White House told Prime Minister Erdogan that he wanted to improve relations between the two countries and find “effective management of disagreements.” The two also agreed to hold a bilateral meeting at the NATO Summit in Brussels in June.

Biden has pledged as a candidate to allow the killing and deportation of hundreds of thousands of Armenians in modern Turkey during the First World War.

This was the first call between the two leaders on Friday since Biden took office more than three months ago. Delays were a sign of concern in Ankara. Erdogan has a good relationship with former President Donald Trump and wanted a reset despite past friction with Biden.

Turkey marks the 103rd anniversary of the Armenian Genocide
The 1915 Armenian Genocide Memorial was held on April 24, 2018 in Istanbul, Turkey. (ChrisMcGrath / Getty Images)
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will sit in his office in Ankara, Turkey, on April 22, 2021 and listen to the opening session of the Virtual Global Leaders Summit on Climate. (Turkish President via Musta Fakamachi / AP)

On Friday, Erdogan reiterated his long-standing claim that the United States is supporting Syrian Kurdish fighters who are members of the Iraqi-based Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). In recent years, Turkey has launched military operations against PKK outposts in northern Iraq and Kurdish fighters in Syria, a US ally. The State Department has designated PKK as a terrorist organization, but has discussed with Turkey the group’s relationship with the Kurds in Syria.

According to a statement by the Turkish government, Prime Minister Erdogan also expressed concern about the presence of priest Fetofullaguren in the United States, who accused Ankara of organizing the failure of the 2016 coup attempt. Gulen, who has lived in Pennsylvania since the late 1990s, has denied involvement in the coup.

Biden got angry with Turkish authorities during an interview with the New York Times, who spoke about supporting Turkey’s opposition to “dictator” Erdogan during the campaign. In 2019, Biden accused Trump of betraying his US allies following Trump’s decision to withdraw his troops from northern Syria. This paved the way for Turkey’s military assault on Syrian Kurdish groups. In 2014, when Biden was Vice President, he apologized to Erdogan after suggesting in a speech that he had promoted the rise of the terrorist group Islamic State by allowing Turkey to cross the border between Turkey and Syria. ..

Joe Biden
President Joe Biden will speak to the Virtual Leaders Summit on Climate from the East Room of the White House in Washington on April 23, 2021. (Evan Vucci / AP Photo)

Parliamentarians and Armenian-American activists are urging Biden to announce the genocide on or before the Armenian memorial day that the president usually marks in the Declaration.

Perceptions of the slaughter resonate beyond Armenia, as Biden argues that respect for human rights is a central principle of his foreign policy, said Salpi Gazarian, director of the Armenian Institute at the University of Southern California. Said.

“Inside and outside the United States, the United States’ commitment to basic human values ​​has been questioned for decades,” she said. “It is very important that people around the world continue to have the hope and belief that America’s ambitious values ​​are still appropriate and that they can actually do several things at once. In fact, I They can continue to trade and other relations with the country, but they also point out the fact that the government cannot escape by killing its own people. “

Turkey’s foreign minister, Mebrut Chabsogur, warned the Biden administration earlier this week that approval would “harm” relations between the United States and Turkey.

White House spokesman Jen Psaki declined to comment on Friday about Biden’s deliberations on the matter.

Aamer Madhani, Matthew Lee, Zeynep Bilginsoy

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