Turkey "entirely rejects" US President Joe Biden's recognition of the 1915 Armenian events as "genocide," Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said adding that Washington's declaration is based solely on populism.

Supporters of Turkey stand off with Armenians supporters outside the Turkish Embassy on April 24, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Supporters of Turkey stand off with Armenians supporters outside the Turkish Embassy on April 24, 2021 in Washington, DC. (AFP)

Turkey’s foreign ministry has summoned the US Ambassador in Ankara to protest US President's Joe Biden's statement on the Armenian events of 1915. 

Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal met with David Satterfield late Saturday to express Ankara's strong condemnation. “The statement does not have a legal ground in terms of international law and has hurt the Turkish people, opening a wound that’s hard to fix in our relations,” the ministry said.

On Saturday, US President Joe Biden followed through on a campaign promise to recognise the events that began in 1915 as "genocide."

Minutes after the White House proclamation Turkish officials denounced the US move.

"We have nothing to learn from anybody on our own past. Political opportunism is the greatest betrayal to peace and justice," Foreign Minister Cavusoglu said on Twitter. "We entirely reject this statement based solely on populism."

Turkey rejects the use of the word, saying both Turks and Armenians were killed and has called for a joint history commission to investigate.

Turkish diaspora protest US President Biden’s remarks on the Armenian events of 1915, in Washington, US, April 24, 2021.
Turkish diaspora protest US President Biden’s remarks on the Armenian events of 1915, in Washington, US, April 24, 2021. (Reuters)

'Distortion of historical facts'

US President Joe Biden's remarks on the events of 1915, which distorted historical facts under pressure from the radical Armenian lobby, are null and void, Turkey's presidential spokesman said on Saturday.

"We strongly reject and condemn this statement, which reflects the slanders of those who are malicious and whose only agenda is hostile to our country," Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said in a statement.

Kalin emphasised that the so-called "genocide" allegations lack any basis or scholarly evidence as required by international law.

"When our President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for the establishment of a joint history commission to investigate the 1915 events, he wanted to save a historical issue from the shadow of politics and malicious circles. The US president ignored these facts and took an unfair attitude," he said.

Kalin said historical events must be investigated by historians and these facts cannot be determined by the narrow interests of a political context.

He told Al Jazeera that many respected historians such as Bernard Lewis, Edward Erickson and Guenter Lewy have denied and rejected any claim of genocide.

Stressing that the word genocide was invented in 1948, he said the term could not be applied to events before 1948.

Kalin contended that the US administration unfortunately has succumbed to the pressure of the Armenian lobby.

”The statement by the US president politicises historical facts for narrow political gains. This is really unfortunate,” he added.

Turkish business community in the US protests Biden's move

The Turkish business community in the US observed with great disappointment remarks by the US president who recognized the so-called Armenian genocide, the head of Turkey-US Business Council (TAIK) said Saturday.

“It is obvious that these unfortunate statements, which do not comply with historical facts, are against the spirit of the deep-rooted and multidimensional friendship relations between the two countries,” Mehmet Ali Yalcindag said in a statement.

Noting that Turkey is founded on the principles of “Peace at Home, Peace in the World,” he said all of its citizens enjoy equal rights and freedom regardless of their religious beliefs or ethnic origins.

Yalcindag said such statements cannot go beyond exploiting the common pains of the nations that lived on the same land for centuries.

“During these current days, when we have been exerting efforts day and night in order to increase economic and trade ties between the two countries despite political and military disputes, we expect the same sensitivity to be displayed by the US administration,” he said.

TAIK invited the US administration and the president to reconsider its stance on the issue and focus on agenda items that would enhance business cooperation.

Turkic Council denounces US statement

The Turkic Council deplored the statement by US President Joe Biden on the events of 1915, saying it harms the hopes of regional cooperation and stability.

"I am very saddened by the statement of the US President regarding the events of 1915, which clearly bears political motivations at the expense of historical facts and damaging the hopes of cooperation and stability in the region," Secretary-General Baghdad Amreyev said in a written statement on Saturday.

He said a "transparent and fair" study about the events of 1915 is needed, with international law and relevant documents applied, not a trial or conviction of countries and their people by parliaments and administrations of third countries.

"Weaponisation of distorted historical allegations towards another country could only play into the hands of those willing to fan the feelings of hatred, revenge and enmity among the societies," he said.

"While denouncing the statement of US President, I believe that distortion of history with political ends or attempts to 'rewrite history' and its use for political pressure will only beget further polarization among countries and peoples that will hinder peace and stability in our region," he added.

Ankara's stance on events of 1915

Turkey’s position on the events of 1915 is that the deaths of Armenians in eastern Anatolia took place when some sided with invading Russians and revolted against Ottoman forces. A subsequent relocation of Armenians resulted in numerous casualties.

Turkey objects to the presentation of these incidents as “genocide,” describing them as a tragedy in which both sides suffered casualties.

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.

In 2014, then-Prime Minister Erdogan expressed condolences to the descendants of Armenians who lost their lives in the events of 1915.

READ MORE: Turkey rejects Biden calling Armenian events of 1915 'genocide'