Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is not happy about U.S. President Joe Biden’s declaration that the 1915 massacre of Armenians during the Ottoman Empire was genocide. He has threatened to retaliate by labeling the killing of native Americans as genocide.
Biden became the first U.S. president to formally recognize the 1915-1916 massacre of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians as a genocide. Previous U.S. presidents declined to do so in order to preserve relations with Turkey, a NATO ally.
Biden’s historic declaration on the Armenian genocide has antagonized its NATO ally. Erdogan says it’s “the wrong step” that has opened “a deep wound” in relations between his country and the U.S.
“The U.S. president has made baseless, unjust and untrue remarks about the sad events that took place in our geography over a century ago. I hope the U.S. president will turn back from this wrong step as soon as possible,” Erdogan said after a cabinet meeting.
The Armenian genocide — a mass deportation that amounted to a death march — enabled the creation of the Turkish state. Before World War II, it was considered the greatest atrocity in history. As of 2021, 30 countries have recognized the event as genocide. Turkey denies that the deportation of Armenians was genocide.
“If you say genocide, then you need to look at yourselves in the mirror and make an evaluation,” Erdogan said. “The Native Americans, I don’t even need to mention them, what happened is clear. We can also talk about what happened to Blacks and in Vietnam.”
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It is estimated that the Indigenous population of the Americas fell from as many as 112 million to less than 238,000 between Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the new world in 1492 and the late 19th century.
The decline of Indigenous Americans is attributed to disease and more than 1,500 wars, attacks and raids authorized by the U.S. government.
Erdogan said he expected to “open the door for a new period” in ties and discuss all disputes with Biden at the NATO summit in June, but warned that ties would deteriorate further unless the allies could compartmentalize issues.
“Now (the) U.S.-Turkey relations are on such a low point that there is no one left in the United States lobbying on Turkey’s behalf and no one in Washington is worried about angering Turkey anymore. There is a sense that there is nothing to lose,” said Nicholas Danforth, a Turkey specialist and visiting scholar at Elliot School of International affairs, in an Aljazeera report.