Erdoğan hits out at Biden in Armenian genocide denial

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan berated U.S. President Joe Biden for characterising the 1915 mass killings of Armenians in Anatolia as genocide.

Biden’s remarks, made at the weekend, were unforgiveable and based on false information, Erdoğan told reporters after a cabinet meeting on Monday, state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

"The U.S. president should learn and know history very well,” Erdoğan said. “We cannot forgive this attempt aiming to challenge Turkey in the absence of such (historical) knowledge."

Biden formally recognised the killing of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire as an act of genocide on April 24 last year, the anniversary of the start of the murders. It was the first time a U.S. president recognised the events as genocide. On Sunday, he said the Armenian genocide was one of the worst mass atrocities of the 20th century. 

“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. “We recommit ourselves to speaking out and stopping atrocities that leave lasting scars on the world.”  

Such statements have no impact on Turkey, Erdoğan said. Armenian gangs and foreign powers were responsible for starting the violence, he said.

"During World War I, Armenians in Anatolia started a revolt through provocation and equipment of foreign states and attacked the Muslim population. Memories of the massacres and cruelties committed by Armenian gangs all over our country are still alive," he said.

While Armenian propaganda talks about an absurd number of deaths, many more Muslims than Armenians lost their lives and were brutally martyred by these gangs, Erdoğan said.

Armenians are seeking full global recognition for atrocities during World War I that they say left some 1.5 million of their people dead. An overwhelming majority of non-Turkish historians agree that April 24, 1915 was the beginning of a systematic mass murder and expulsion of civilian Armenians by the Ottoman Empire government, which meets the definition of genocide.

Turkey denies that a genocide took place, instead saying hundreds of thousands of ethnic Armenians and Turks died in clashes after Armenians in Turkey sided with Russia in World War I. Turkey says any killings were not systemic or orchestrated and it has objected strongly to all attempts at recognition internationally.

“Of course, the killing of a single innocent life, even a single civilian person, regardless of their faith and origin, is a tragedy," Erdoğan said.

With this understanding, it is a "humanitarian duty to express condolences to the Ottoman Armenians who lost their lives in the harsh conditions of World War I," Erdoğan said.

On Monday, the Turkish Defence Ministry published a tweet remembering the "massacre of Turks by Armenians in 1915."

The statement was accompanied by photos of piles of dead bodies it said were Muslim Turks.

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