Turkey’s president said Monday he was "highly saddened" by President Biden’s decision to mark as genocide the mass deportations and massacres of Armenians in the early 20th century, calling it baseless and unjust. Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Biden’s decision undermined Turkish-American relations but also expressed hope they would discuss that and other issues at the June NATO summit and "open the doors of a new period," the AP reports. Otherwise, Erdogan said, Turkey would have to take necessary steps but did not elaborate. On Saturday, Biden followed through on a campaign promise to recognize the events that began in 1915 and killed an estimated 1.5 million Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire—the precursor of modern Turkey—as genocide.
"We believe the expressions in the statement were included with the pressure of radical Armenian and anti-Turkish groups, but this situation does not resolve the destructive effects it has on bilateral relations," Erdogan said. In his speech Monday, the Turkish president spoke at length about the events, which started during World War I. Erdogan claimed that Armenian rebels killed many defenseless Turkish civilians, since the men of military age were all away fighting. His country has "a clear conscience and assured heart” and did not believe in a "competition of pain," Erdogan said. "If you call it genocide, go ahead and look in the mirror," he added, arguing that millions suffered at the hands of European powers and the US in recent centuries.
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