The Trump administration has announced it agrees with Turkey and does not consider the mass killings of Armenians in 1915 to be a genocide, contradicting a unanimous vote by the US Senate.
The historic vote last week infuriated Turkey, which has always denied that the killings amounted to genocide. Turkey’s Foreign Ministry on Friday summoned the US ambassador to express its anger over the vote, accusing the US of “politicising history”.
The vote was passed by unanimous consent after Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, brought it up for consideration on the floor last Wednesday, 11th of December, 2019. Under Senate rules, legislation can pass by unanimous consent without a roll call vote as long as no senator objects.
“By passing my Armenian Genocide resolution, the Senate finally stood up to confirm history,” said Senator Menendez.
“The position of the administration has not changed,” said State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus in a statement on Tuesday. “Our views are reflected in the President’s definitive statement on this issue from last April,” she said.
During that statement on the mass killings’ anniversary, President Trump said the United States honoured victims of “one of the worst mass atrocities of the 20th century” but did not use the word genocide.
He instead encouraged Armenians and Turks to “acknowledge and reckon with their painful history.”
After the two votes last week in the US House and Senate to recognise the massacres as genocide, Turkey’s President Erdogan threatened to shut down Incirlik airbase, which is based in Turkey and hosts US nuclear warheads.
Erdogan also said he could close Kurecik radar base as a threat of US sanctions hung over Turkey after its recent military offensive in Syria. He also called the votes, known as simple resolutions, “worthless” and the “biggest insult” to Turkish people.