White House does not describe Armenian deaths as ‘genocide’

Obama won’t use term ‘genocide’ to describe Armenian deaths of 1915 in his commemoration address

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The White House has decided not to use “genocide” term to describe the events leading to the deaths of thousands of Armenians in 1915.

Following a meeting between the leaders of Armenian American civil society organisations and White House chief of staff Denis McDonough and Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes to discuss the issue, the White House administration made a statement indicating their position.

Referring to 100th year anniversary of the events, the statement by the National Security Council said the US would “use the occasion to urge a full, frank and just acknowledgement of the facts that we believe is in the interest of all parties,” sticking to White House position of not using the controversial term to describe the historical events.

Turkey rejects the Armenian claims of genocide, saying that the deaths of Armenians at the time were not the result of planned and targeted state action by the Ottoman Empire.

“We regard the 1915 events as a bad incident, but we oppose this historical event being turned into a political argument,” said Volkan Bozkir, Turkey’s EU minister on Tuesday.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu met White House national security advisor Susan Rice Tuesday in Washington and explained Turkey’s position.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior White House official also said President Barack Obama will not use the word “genocide” in his speech on Friday commemorating the deaths on 100th year anniversary.

“We know and respect that there are some who are hoping to hear different language this year. We understand their perspective,” the official said.

“The approach we have taken in previous years remains the right one,” the official added defending the administration's position.

"It is, very simply, a betrayal of truth, a betrayal of trust," said Ken Hachikian, the chairman of the Armenian National Council of America, expressing his frustration about the position of Obama administration.

During his election campaign in 2008, then Senator Obama had promised to “recognise the Armenian genocide.”

During the meeting with Armenian-American leaders, the Obama administration also acknowledged that a presidential delegation led by Treasury Secretary Jack Lew will attend the commemoration ceremonies in Yerevan on April 24.

American representation at the ceremonies remains low key when compared to other countries, with Russian President Vladimir Putin announcing he will be in Armenia for the commemoration.

TRTWorld and agencies