Recognition of Armenian Genocide would further harm U.S.-Turkey ties – Çavuşoğlu

Relations between NATO allies the United States and Turkey would further deteriorate if U.S. President Joe Biden recognises the mass killings of Armenians between 1915 and 1923 as genocide, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said in a televised interview on Tuesday.

Such a move would not be legally binding while having “a negative effect on the relations,” Çavuşoğlu said.

Pointing out that the United States had recognized the Armenian genocide to date, Çavuşoğlu said he believes Washington will take the same stance this year.

“If the United States wants to make relations even worse, the choice is theirs,’’ he said. “If they say we already have our differences, let’s focus on those and resolve them, then we would of course have a more constructive approach.”

Genocide recognition was part of Biden’s platform in the presidential run in 2020, and the U.S. president may make good on the long-standing promise this year. Last year, both chambers of the U.S. Congress passed resolutions on the Armenian Genocide with overwhelming majority as a step closer to official recognition.

Most scholars agree that the events of 1915-1923, the mass killing and expulsion of Armenians and other, smaller non-Muslim minority groups from Anatolia resulting in the death of some 1.5 million Armenians, meets the definition of genocide.

Governing bodies in 32 countries, including the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Brazil, have already recognised the genocide.

Turkey accepts there have been some deaths, but maintains the number was much lower, and that they were not systemic or orchestrated. Ankara strongly objects to any and all attempts at recognition internationally.

Since taking office in January, Biden still hasn’t made a phone call to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, which some analysts have interpreted as a possible signal of recognition on April 24, the day deportations of Istanbulite Armenian intellectuals started.

Washington and Ankara have been at odds over an array of issues, including Turkey’s purchase of Russian-made S-400 missile defence systems, which the United States maintains pose a threat to NATO security.