Joe Biden spoke to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after revealing that the United States was preparing to formally recognize the Armenian genocide.
Following reports in various media of a possible shift in U.S. foreign policy, the two leaders discussed "constructive bilateral relations with expanding areas of cooperation and effective management of differences." The State Department indicated that an announcement would be made on Saturday to mark the 106th anniversary of the tragic event.
On Friday, the White House reported that U.S. President Joe Biden had a phone call with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan a day after Washington's intentions to formally recognize the Armenian genocide were launched.
In a reading of the call, the White House did not mention the controversy, saying only that Biden called for a "constructive bilateral relationship with expanded areas of cooperation and effective management of disagreements."
The two leaders also agreed to join in person during a NATO summit in June.
On the other hand, the U.S. State Department says that an announcement regarding the Armenian genocide will be made this Friday, as it reveals the systematic killing and deportation of hundreds of thousands of Armenians (according to some sources, the number would amount to 1.5 million) by the Ottoman Empire beginning in 1915, amid expectations Biden will challenge Turkey to effectively justify genocide as genocide, which Ankara denies.
As far as the Armenian genocide is involved, you can foresee an announcement tomorrow. On Friday, State Department deputy spokeswoman Jalina Porter told reporters that she refused to provide details.
On Saturday, precisely 106 years of the deportation of Armenian intellectuals residing in Constantinople, capital of the Ottoman Empire, in April 1915 are commemorated, the fact that historians usually consider as the beginning of the Armenian genocide.
As U.S. officials revealed Tuesday, Biden is preparing to formally acknowledge that the events that took place more than a century ago were genocide, as in France, Germany, Argentina, and Brazil, many Others have already done so. In the case of the United States, the situation is more secretive: Congress has recognized the Armenian genocide in its resolutions, but the government has maintained a more ambiguous stance to counter Turkey, an ally within NATO, and has committed genocide. Avoided using the term.
Armenian-American lawmakers and activists are pressuring Biden to announce on or before Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day to be observed on Saturday.
One possibility is that Biden includes the acknowledgment of genocide in the annual proclamation of remembrance day that presidents often issue. Biden's forerunners refrain from using genocide in a statement reminiscent of a dark moment in history.
On Wednesday, a bipartisan group of more than 100 members of the House of Representatives signed a letter to Biden asking him to become U.S president, formally acknowledging the outrages committed by the then Ottoman Empire. Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California led the letter.
The lawmakers wrote that the U.S. government's embarrassing silence on the historical fact of the Armenian genocide has been going on for a long time, and it must end. We urge you to keep your promises and tell the truth.
On Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that the president would have more to say on Saturday, the day of the memorial service.
The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal were the first to report that Biden is preparing to acknowledge the genocide.
If Biden goes ahead, he will almost certainly face rejection from Turkey, which the E.U. has successfully lobbied past presidents to sidestep the issue.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu insisted earlier this week that Turkey was not concerned about any decision Biden might make and suggested that such a move would face a harsh backlash.
If the United States wants our relations to deteriorate, it is up to them, he said in an interview with Turkish news channel Haber Turk.
Relations between Ankara and Washington, once recognized diplomatic partners, have deteriorated in recent years over Syria, Turkey's alliance with Russia, and Turkey's current naval invasion in the Eastern Mediterranean that U.S. officials have described as destabilizing.
During last year's campaign, Biden drew the attention of Turkish officials after an interview with The New York Times in which he spoke in support of "independent" Erdogan's opposition to Turkey. Still, Turkey was hoping to restore relations. Erdogan developed a passionate relationship with former President Donald Trump, who never paid attention to Turkey's history of human rights abuses.