UPDATE: Biden calls Erdogan for heads-up: He is to recognize massacre of Armenians as genocide

CNN Politics:  President Biden told Turkish President Erdoğan he’s planning to recognize Armenian genocide


President Joe Biden told his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Friday he plans to recognize the 1915 massacre of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire as a genocide, according to a person familiar with the conversation.

Readouts from the White House and Turkish presidency did not mention the issue. The call was described by the person familiar as “tense.” Bloomberg was first to report that Biden told Erdoğan of his intentions.
CNN previously reported Biden was preparing to recognize the century-old atrocities against Armenians as a genocide, fulfilling a campaign promise. Biden’s predecessors in the White House had stopped short of using the word, wary of damaging ties with a key regional ally.

US President Joe Biden spoke with Turkey’s president Erdogan on Friday as he is to move forward with a campaign pledge to formally recognize that atrocities committed against the Armenian people by the Ottoman Empire more than a century ago were genocide.

The White House, in a statement on the call, made no mention of the looming decision on the Armenian genocide recognition. But it said Biden told Erdogan he wants to improve the two countries’ relationship and find “effective management of disagreements.” The two also agreed to hold a bilateral meeting at the NATO summit in Brussels in June.

Biden pledged as a candidate to recognize the World War I-era killings and deportations of hundreds of thousands of Armenians in modern day Turkey. He is expected to make the announcement Saturday to coincide with the annual Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day commemoration, according to U.S. officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

Friday’s call between the two leaders was the first since Biden took office more than three months ago. The delay had become a worrying sign in Ankara; Erdogan had good rapport with former President Donald Trump and had been hoping for a reset despite past friction with Biden.

Biden, during the campaign, drew ire from Turkish officials after an interview with The New York Times in which he spoke about supporting Turkey’s opposition against “autocrat” Erdogan. In 2019, Biden accused Trump of betraying U.S. allies, following Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from northern Syria, which paved the way for a Turkish military offensive against the Syrian Kurdish group. In 2014, when he was vice president, Biden apologized to Erdogan after suggesting in a speech that Turkey helped facilitate the rise of the terrorist group Islamic State by allowing foreign fighters to cross Turkey’s border with Syria.

Lawmakers and Armenian-American activists have been lobbying Biden to make the genocide announcement on or before the Armenian remembrance day that presidents typically mark with a proclamation.

Salpi Ghazarian, director of the University of Southern California’s Institute of Armenian Studies, said the recognition of genocide would resonate beyond Armenia as Biden insists that respect for human rights will be a central principle in his foreign policy.

Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu had warned the Biden administration earlier this week that recognition would “harm” U.S.-Turkey ties already tense dur to Turkey’s purchase of Russian made S-400 missile systems. .