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Apr 26, 2021
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Recognizing the Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire, Biden separates Yerevan from Moscow

Photo: participants of the torchlight procession dedicated to the 106th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire in Yerevan

Photo: participants of the torchlight procession dedicated to the 106th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire in Yerevan (Photo: Vahram Baghdasaryan / Photolure / TASS)

President of the U.S.A Joe Biden officially recognized the Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire. This is stated on the website of the White House

The gesture was timed to the Day of Remembrance of the Victims of the Armenian Genocide. In his statement, Biden noted that those who remember the victims of the massacre on this day commit themselves to “preventing a recurrence of such atrocities.”

Biden confirmed his intention to recognize the Armenian Genocide during a conversation with the President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan… He noted that he became the first US president in 40 years to publicly recognize the actions of the Ottoman Empire at the beginning of the 20th century as genocide.

In response, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said that Biden’s words deeply damaged relations with the United States. It is reported that the US Ambassador to Ankara was summoned to the Foreign Ministry, a protest was made to him.

Erdogan himself noted that he honors the memory of the Armenians who died in 1915, but added that the attempts of certain circles to politicize the events of those years in order to put pressure on Ankara would not be beneficial. The Turkish leader recalled that after the settlement of the Karabakh conflict, Turkey declared its readiness to develop relations with Armenia. “Today I repeat this call again”– said in his statement.

At the same time, Biden’s statement was greeted with jubilation in Armenia. And the prime minister of the country Nicole Pashinyan sent a letter to the American leader expressing gratitude for the invaluable support and recognition of the historical fact.

It seems that with this step Biden wants to finally pull Armenia over himself, to tear it away from its natural ally – Russia. At the same time, he further spoils relations with his NATO ally, Turkey, which, after an unsuccessful coup attempt in 2016 and Ankara’s purchase of Russian S-400 complexes, is nowhere worse. Have the contradictions reached their climax? Or is it the result of many years of work by the Armenian lobby – it is worth noting that the Armenian diaspora in the United States is very numerous and influential.

– It’s all together, – I’m sure Associate Professor of the Financial University Gevorg Mirzayan… – Firstly, Biden does not give up hope of breaking off Russian-Armenian relations. If successful, he cuts off Russia from the Middle East, seriously complicates its position in the Caspian Sea. Secondly, Erdogan has been behaving too arrogantly in recent years: he does not obey the Americans, pursues his own policy and even tries to expel Americans from the Middle East. This means that Erdogan needs to be trained. And, of course, we shouldn’t forget about the work of the Armenian lobby of the United States. A lobby for which the recognition of genocide is Alpha and Omega.

“SP”: – Biden’s predecessors, regardless of the party, had a consensus on this topic – they handled it carefully. Why did Biden decide to chop off the shoulder?

– First of all, because of the importance of the first two reasons. Especially the second one. Erdogan is becoming a very serious problem for the United States. Not only within the framework of American-Turkish relations, but also within the framework of the entire West. Turks are violators of collective discipline. For example, they allow themselves to cooperate with Russia.

“SP”: – The fact that the recognition will be, it became clear in a few days. What is the meaning of this expectation? Bargaining with the Turks? Don’t agree?

– Most likely we are just talking about some bureaucratic issues. All this needs to be done correctly.

“SP”: – What can really change the recognition by one or another country of genocide on the other side of the planet a century ago?

– In fact, nothing. Well, except for the emergence of a sense of self-satisfaction among the Armenian diaspora. Something will change only if Turkey itself recognizes the fact of the genocide. And Erdogan will not do this. He perfectly understands that the recognition of the genocide is extremely disadvantageous for Turkey. This recognition makes Turkey a defective power that has committed genocide. In addition, the move allows Armenians to claim financial compensation as well as property restitution. Why should Erdogan do this? This is not in line with Turkish national interests …

“SP”: – Before that, the United States still excluded Turkey from the F-35 production program. Is this a serious aggravation of US-Turkish relations? How will Turkey respond?

– Turkey can respond with various demonstrative steps. Any political or personal sanctions. But at the same time, Turkish answer options are very limited. Turkey is not going to withdraw from NATO or expel the Americans from its military bases. Ankara operates within a corridor of opportunities that is safe for it. In the end, the American president’s recognition of the fact of genocide is offensive, but not fatal.

“SP”: – How profitable is it for Armenia? What will change for her?

– Oddly enough, it is unprofitable for Armenia. First, this recognition does not bring any practical benefit to Armenia. Secondly, the recognition by the Americans can strengthen the pro-American mood in the Armenian society, which is destructive in nature. The more pro-American Armenia is, the weaker and more vulnerable it will be to Turkey. Simply because pro-American sentiments in the post-Soviet space are anti-Russian in nature.

“SP”: – Is it hot or cold in Russia? And how should Moscow behave in general in this situation? We are friends with the Turks too, and Armenia is our ally? Maybe it’s better to be stupidly silent?

– Of course, Russia will be silent about this. What Biden did is an element of the Armenian-American relations, and formally we have no right to interfere in it. But of course, we are concerned about the attempts of the United States to suck up to the Armenians and weaken our presence in the South Caucasus. On the other hand, it is clear that we cannot in any way oppose the American recognition of the genocide. This would be at least immoral, and would also contradict a similar decision taken long ago by the Russian Federation.

– The difficult relationship between Washington and Ankara could have influenced the rhetoric of Joseph Biden, – believes Leading Analyst of the Agency for Political and Economic Communications Mikhail Neyzhmakov.— But one should not discount the internal political factors in the United States. It is worth remembering that, for example, The Washington Post, evaluating Biden’s economic policy, noted in March 2021 that under this president, “the democratic majority is more liberal than Carter, Clinton or Obama”, Noting the decline in the influence of the conservative wing within the Democratic Party. This means that the current American administration can react more actively to the topic of human rights (including in connection with historical events), even in comparison with the teams of other Democratic presidents of recent decades.

“SP”: – And what will the recognition change for Armenia? Will Pashinyan be able to write this down for himself?

Pashinyan certainly hopes to get additional political points against this background. Perhaps this is one of the factors that forced the Armenian prime minister to announce his resignation after Joseph Biden’s statement (that it would be kept in this vein, many had been expecting for a long time).

Nevertheless, the position of the American administration for many in Armenia will be loosely linked to the efforts of the Armenian prime minister himself, which reduces Pashinyan’s ability to effectively use this informational occasion for his own purposes.

In addition, by the time of the parliamentary elections, this topic may be pushed out of the political agenda by other high-profile events. Biden’s statement may become an additional mobilizing factor for Pashinyan’s supporters and, possibly, some of the hesitant voters, but of course it is unlikely to play the role of a “Crimean spring” for the now acting acting president. Prime Minister of Armenia.

“SP”: – And for Turkey? Isn’t this purely politics? Well, a certain number of countries recognize the Armenian genocide, so what? The Turks don’t care. They will not make them pay compensation …

– It is worth noting that there are quite influential political forces inside Turkey, whose position on this issue differs from that of the country’s leadership.

For example, the Democratic Party of Peoples, represented in the country’s parliament and ranked third in the 2018 parliamentary elections (a left-wing organization focused on support from ethnic minorities, primarily Kurds), has previously called for “paying tribute to the memory of all victims of the Armenian genocide.”

As for the Turkish leadership, its position is, of course, influenced by the intention to secure its state from the material consequences of such recognition. A number of experts and public figures believed that such a step could become a reason even for Armenia’s territorial claims to Turkey, although in reality, of course, one does not follow from the other.

As world experience shows, the protection of territorial integrity is mainly a matter of military potential and political will. Tactical considerations are also very important here. If, in theory, Erdogan began to use the term Armenian genocide in his official statements, this would be perceived by his voters as at least weakness and readiness to succumb to pressure, and by many, most likely, as a betrayal of national interests.

The transition of official Ankara to the use of the term Armenian genocide is theoretically possible in a situation of very weak foreign policy positions of Turkey, but this is hardly possible in the foreseeable future.

“SP”: – What will happen to US-Turkish relations now? Shortly before the US elections, some experts wrote that Biden would try to make peace with Erdogan in order to tear him away from Russia. And here you are on …

– A number of Turkish politicians have already called on Erdogan to take tough practical steps towards the United States. For example, calling for a review of the status of the Incirlik and Kurejik military bases. US-Turkish relations will indeed remain difficult in the near future. The team of the Turkish president will indeed have to take at least symbolic retaliatory steps towards Washington in order to show its internal audience its readiness to “not miss a beat.”

But, most likely, Turkey’s practical steps towards the United States will be more cautious. Before Biden’s resonant statement, he had a conversation with his Turkish counterpart, where, as far as is known, the problematic aspects of relations between the two states were also discussed. By the way, here you can draw certain parallels with Russian-American relations – telephone conversations Vladimir Putin and Joseph Biden on the eve of a new package of sanctions. Most likely, Ankara will not rush to “burn bridges” in its dialogue with Washington.

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