YEREVAN, Armenia (AP) — Armenia’s leader is praising President Joe Biden’s recognition of the deaths of 1.5 million Armenians in Ottoman Turkey as genocide, calling it “a powerful step.”
Biden’s announcement Saturday and Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s response came on the day that Armenians streamed to a hilltop memorial complex in the capital of Yerevan to lay flowers and mourn the victims.
Armenia marks the day as the anniversary of the 1915 rounding up of some 250 Armenian intellectuals, regarded as the first step in the killings that lasted until 1923.
Turkey vehemently rejects the genocide label, conceding that many died in that era, but insisting that the death toll is inflated and the deaths resulted from civil unrest. Biden’s statement brought an angry response from Turkey and risks worsening relations between Washington and Ankara.
But Pashinyan said the move “reaffirms the supremacy of human rights and values in international relations. From this point of view, it is an inspiring and inspiring example for all who want to build a just and tolerant international society together.”
“I highly appreciate your principled position, which is a powerful step towards the restoration of truth and historical justice, invaluable support to the descendants of the victims of the Armenian genocide,” he said in a message to Biden.