Jun 09 2018

Obama’s ex aide regrets his failure in recognizing Armenian genocide

Former special adviser to President Barack Obama, Samantha Power, regrets the former U.S. president’s failure to ensure an official U.S. recognition of the 1915 Armenian genocide during his tenure, writes Artak Hambardzumian on Armenian azatutyun news site.

Recognition of the events of 1915 - a large-scale slaughter of as many as 1.5 million Armenians in the Ottoman Empire - was one of Obama’s key election campaign pledges.

The former president failed to fullfil this promise because he did not want to jeopardize a rapprochement between Armenia and Turkey and feared that Ankara could obstruct U.S. efforts to defeat the Islamic State extremist group, writes Hambardzumian.

Power, who advised Obama on foreign policy and human rights before serving as U.S. ambassador to the United States from 2013-2017, points the finger at the “very volatile personality” of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for Obama’s stance on 1915 as well.

“I have great regret that we did not manage to go all the way to full recognition in the way that we had promised,” Hambardzumian quotes Power as saying during her first-ever visit to Armenia. “I really believed going into the White House that we would.”

“But in 2009, which was really the year that we would have done it right at the beginning, President Obama made clear that his view of the facts had not changed and everybody knew his view,” she said. “But he felt that the Armenian-Turkish normalization was at a very important and very fragile stage.

While underlining that none of these factors justified Obama’s decisions, Powers said:

“There is really no excuse because, as I wrote before I became a U.S. government official, there really is never a good time to do it. There is always going to be some set of issues and equities on the other side of the argument.”

The article points out that Obama reportedly came very close to recognizing the genocide in an April 2015 but failed to do so due to administrative conflicts.

‘’There is almost nobody in any doubt around the world about the events of 1915,” the former special adviser to President Obama stressed.

U.S. President Donald Trump released a statement this year, on Apr. 24, Armenian Remembrance Day, in which he referred to the "horrific events of 1915," leading to the death of hundreds of thousands of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, using the Armenian phrase "Meds Yeghern," (the great crime) and not genocide.

Most international scholars and 29 countries recognise the events starting in 1915 as a genocide; Turkey, however, admits that massacres took place but rejects the term genocide.