Obama to refrain from terming 1915 events 'genocide'

Obama administration says US president will pursue previous approaches to the issue.

Obama to refrain from terming 1915 events 'genocide'

World Bulletin / News Desk 

President Barack Obama will refrain from terming the 1915 events “genocide,” the State Department confirmed Wednesday.

Spokeswoman Marie Harf said that while the administration understands the perspective of those who hoped to see the president use different language on the centenary of the events, “we believe that the approach we have taken in previous years remains the right one.”

Throughout his presidency, Obama has used the term “Meds Yeghern,” Armenian for “Great Calamity,” to mark the anniversary despite a campaign pledge to recognize the killings as genocide.

“That's the approach we're taking this year, both for acknowledging the past and also for our ability to work with regional partners,” she said, two days before the 100th anniversary set to be commemorated April 24.

“You will hear the president speak very strongly about the historical fact that 1.5 million Armenians were massacred or marched to their deaths in the final days of the Ottoman Empire,” Harf added.

Turkey has called for the establishment of a joint commission of historians and the opening of archives to study and uncover what happened between the Ottoman Empire and its Armenian citizens.

White House spokesman Eric Schultz told reporters aboard Air Force One that Turkey plays “an important role in frankly acknowledging the facts of 1915, which we will continue to encourage them to do, and in fostering a constructive relationship with modern day Armenia.”

A presidential delegation led by Treasury Secretary Jack Lew will attend a centennial commemoration of the 1915 events in Armenia on Friday, the administration announced Tuesday.

In 2014, when current President Recep Tayyip Erdogan served as prime minister, he expressed his condolences for the first time to Ottoman citizens who lost their lives during the 1915 events, including Armenians.

"I offered a hand of friendship in 2014 to Armenia, but, unfortunately, it came to nothing," Erdogan said in a recent speech.

The UN defines genocide as "acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group."

Güncelleme Tarihi: 23 Nisan 2015, 12:30