ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized U.S. President Joe Biden on Monday for again characterizing the deaths of 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Empire forces as a “genocide,” saying the U.S. leader’s statement was “based on lies and false information.”
In a televised address following a Cabinet meeting, Erdogan challenged Biden to “learn the history” concerning the Armenians, insisted that such statements were “provoking enmity” between the Turkish and Armenian people and maintained that the Armenian people would suffer the most from the “hypocrisy.”
Historians widely view the massacres, deportations and forces marches that began in 1915 in Ottoman Turkey as a genocide. Turkey vehemently rejects the label, conceding that many died in that era, but insisting that the death toll is inflated, that the deaths resulted from civil unrest and that Ottoman Muslims also died.
Biden on Sunday issued a statement commemorating the 107th anniversary of the start of the “Armenian genocide.”
The U.S. president had first used the term “genocide” during last year’s anniversary, fulfilling a campaign promise. Past presidents had avoided that word for decades out of a concern that Turkey — a NATO member — could be offended.
“Statements relating to the Armenian claims … are of no effect to us,” Erdogan said. “This is how we see the statement of the U.S. president, and we do not even find it worth dwelling on because it is all based on lies and false information.”