Turkey’s Recep Erdogan says he will tell Biden that his official recognition of the Armenian genocide ‘disturbed and upset us’

Daily Mail, UK
June 14 2021
  •  Turkish leader said he expects an 'unconditional approach'
  •  He said the historical issue 'has disturbed and upset us. It is not possible to go on without reminding (Biden of) this'
  • Washington says Turkey's purchase of Russian air defenses aren't compatible with NATO 
  • Anger over Turkey's removal from the F-35 fighter jet program 
  • White House statement in April marked the anniversary of killings of 1.5 million Armenians during breakup of the Ottoman Empire 

Joe Biden will hear directly from Turkish President Recep Erdogan how his recent statement on the Armenian genocide 'disturbed and upset us' during their one-on-one meeting Monday, the NATO ally said. 

Erdogan is set to meet with Biden in a key bilateral meeting at the NATO summit in Brussels. It will be their first sit-down since Biden's official White House statement on the subject infuriated the Erdogan government.   

'An ally country taking such a stance on an issue that has nothing to do with NATO, the issue of Armenians, has disturbed and upset us. It is not possible to go on without reminding (Biden of) this,' Erdogan said in comments before traveling to the summit.

He said he would also raise the White House recognition of the 1915 massacres of Armenians during the then Ottoman Empire as 'genocide.'

He will revisit the issue after taking a more restrained approach than some analysts expected after the initial April statement.  

He also plans to raise U.S. removal of Turkey from an F-35 fighter jet program amid security concerns over its purchase of Russian-made air defenses.

Turkey accepts that many Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire were killed in clashes with Ottoman forces in World War One, but denies the killings were systematically orchestrated and constitute genocide.

After years of debate in Washington, the White House in April released a statement on the historical event that resulted in the deaths of 1.5 million.  

'Each year on this day, we remember the lives of all those who died in the Ottoman-era Armenian genocide and recommit ourselves to preventing such an atrocity from ever again occurring,' Biden said in the official White House statement.

'And we remember so that we remain ever vigilant against the corrosive influence of hate in all its forms,' he said.  

Erdogan said he and Biden must use their meeting to move on from past troubles, including a bitter dispute over Ankara's purchase of Russian S-400 missiles.

Before travelling to Monday's NATO summit in Brussels, Erdogan said he expected an 'unconditional approach' from Washington when he sat down with Biden for their first face-to-face session since last year's U.S. elections.

The Turkish president, who relied on a close personal relationship with Biden's predecessor Donald Trump to iron out past crises, has been frustrated by the more critical and distanced approach from the new U.S. administration. 

He waited days before calling Biden to congratulate him on his election win. 

Erdogan had to wait three months after Biden's inauguration for their first contact, an awkward phone call in April when the U.S. president informed him of the genocide-recognition plan.

'We need to put Turkey-U.S. ties on the table first-hand,' Erdogan told reporters at Istanbul's airport on Sunday.

'There was a lot of gossip internally and externally, so we need to talk about how we can leave these troubles behind, what we can do and what we will do. Turkey is not just any country – it is an allied country.'

The cooler ties between the two NATO members underline an array of disputes including over U.S. support for Syrian fighters deemed terrorists by Turkey and more vocal U.S. criticism of Ankara's human rights record.

The United States cancelled the sale of 100 F-35s to Ankara after the S-400 purchase in 2019. Erdogan has accused Washington of breaking promises over the alternative U.S. Patriot missiles.

'Unfortunately there is a Turkey that has realized its promises and a United States that has not kept its (promises) or abided by the contract,' Erdogan said of the program.

'We must see an unconditional approach from the United States, without any 'buts', that will add to the cooperation and strength of NATO,' he added.

Washington says the Russian S-400s are incompatible with NATO defenses and the F-35 fighter jets, concerns Ankara has rejected.


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