Azerbaijan Slams US President’s Statement on “Armenian Genocide”

Gulnar Abbasova Media Roundup 26 April 2021
Azerbaijan Slams US President’s Statement on “Armenian Genocide”

Azerbaijani top officials have condemned the recognition of the so-called “Armenian genocide” by U.S. President Joe Biden and expressed their support for Turkey in this regard.

On April 24, Biden classified the alleged events of 1915 as “genocide,” saying that "we remember the lives of all those who died in the Ottoman-era Armenian genocide". Biden became the first US president to use the word genocide in a customary statement on the anniversary of the 1915 to 1917 massacre. 

In a phone conversation with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President Ilham Aliyev voiced his country’s support for Turkey concerning the statement, and called this decision “erroneous”, and “historic mistake”

“Azerbaijan considered that statement unacceptable and was convinced that it significantly damaged the emerging cooperation trends in the region,” Aliyev said on April 24. 

On the same day, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry issued a statement, saying that “the falsification of history, attempts to "rewrite history" and its use for political pressure are unacceptable.” 

“The events of 1915 should be studied by historians, not politicians. However, as it is known, Armenia, which wants to cover up the events and try to portray itself as an oppressed country, did not accept Turkey's proposal to investigate the events of that period by a joint historical commission,” the statement said.

Hikmet Hajiyev, Assistant to the President of Azerbaijan, Head of Foreign Policy Affairs Department of the Presidential Administration, said that “the recognition of the so-called "Armenian genocide" is a falsification of history. History should be studied by historians. If that happens, Azerbaijan will strongly condemn it”. 

“President Ilham Aliyev has repeatedly stated that any step against Turkey is against Azerbaijan, and any step against Azerbaijan is against Turkey. We would like to hope that the US administration will not make a historic mistake,” Hajiyev added.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Chavushoglu said in a tweet that “words cannot change or rewrite history. We have nothing to learn from anybody in our own past. Political opportunism is the greatest betrayal to peace and justice”. 

In a statement, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry urged the U.S. president to correct this “grave mistake” and “to support the efforts aiming to establish a practice of peaceful coexistence in the region, especially among the Turkish and Armenian nations, instead of serving the agenda of those circles that try to foment enmity from history.” 

The Turkish foreign ministry later summoned US Ambassador David Satterfield to express its displeasure, noting that Biden's decision caused "a wound in relations that is difficult to repair".  

In 2014, then-Prime Minister Erdogan expressed condolences to the descendants of Armenians who lost their lives in the events of 1915. Turkey accepts that some part of Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire died in clashes during the First World War but calls for an open investigation into the figures claimed by Armenia and denies that a deliberate systematic massacre against Armenians took place.

Ankara has repeatedly proposed the creation of a joint commission of historians from Turkey and Armenia as well as international experts to tackle the issue, but the proposal was adamantly rejected by the Armenian government. 

Meanwhile, Armenian sources claim 1.5 million deaths as a result of the massacres that allegedly took place during the reign of the Ottoman Empire in 1915. However, the historical facts prove that the number of Armenians living in the Ottoman territories was quite fewer than the claimed figures.