GeriGündem Obama avoids g-word, but uses Armenian term for 1915 incidents
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Obama avoids g-word, but uses Armenian term for 1915 incidents

WASHINGTON - U.S. President Barack Obama Friday declined to use the term "genocide" to characterize the 1915 incidents, but referred to the Armenian term "Meds Yeghern," employed by Armenians to depict the events.

In his annual April 24 statement to mark the "day of remembrance of the Armenian deaths," Obama urged Turkey and Armenia to normalize their relations.

 

"Ninety-four years ago, one of the great atrocities of the 20th century began. Each year, we pause to remember the 1.5 million Armenians who were subsequently massacred or marched to their death in the final days of the Ottoman Empire. The Meds Yeghern must live on in our memories, just as it lives on in the hearts of the Armenian people," Obama said.

 

Meds Yeghern literally means "great catastrophe."

 

"History, unresolved, can be a heavy weight. Just as the terrible events of 1915 remind us of the dark prospect of man’s inhumanity to man, reckoning with the past holds out the powerful promise of reconciliation." the president said. "I have consistently stated my own view of what occurred in 1915, and my view of that history has not changed. My interest remains the achievement of a full, frank and just acknowledgment of the facts."

 

Obama was referring to his statements during last year's election campaign, when he pledged to recognize the 1915 incidents as "genocide."

 

In his April 24 statement, he did not use the g-word, voicing full support for the Turkish-Armenian reconciliation process.

 

MESSAGE TO BOTH SIDES

"The best way to advance that goal right now is for the Armenian and Turkish people to address the facts of the past as a part of their efforts to move forward. I strongly support efforts by the Turkish and Armenian people to work through this painful history in a way that is honest, open, and constructive," he said.

 

Turkey and Armenia under Switzerland's mediation have agreed on a comprehensive framework for the normalization of ties between the two neighboring countries that have not had diplomatic relations for more than a decade.

 

"To that end, there has been courageous and important dialogue among Armenians and Turks, and within Turkey itself. I also strongly support the efforts by Turkey and Armenia to normalize their bilateral relations. Under Swiss auspices, the two governments have agreed on a framework and roadmap for normalization. I commend this progress, and urge them to fulfill its promise," Obama said.

 

"Together, Armenia and Turkey can forge a relationship that is peaceful, productive and prosperous. And together, the Armenian and Turkish people will be stronger as they acknowledge their common history and recognize their common humanity." he added.

 

The issue of the 1915 incidents is highly sensitive one both in Armenia and Turkey. Armenia , with the backing of the diaspora, claims up to 1.5 million Armenians were slaughtered in orchestrated killings in 1915.

 

Turkey rejects the claims, saying that 300,000 Armenians, along with at least as many Turks, died in civil strife that emerged when Armenians took up arms, backed by Russia, for independence in eastern Anatolia .

 

Turkey has offered to form a joint commission to investigate what happened in 1915 and has opened all official archives; however, Armenia is yet to accept the offer.

 

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