Tags: Barack Obama | Pope Francis | War on Terrorism | Armenian | genocide | massacre | Turkey

Despite Campaign Vow, Obama Won't Call Armenian Massacre a 'Genocide'

By    |   Tuesday, 21 Apr 2015 10:10 PM

President Barack Obama is chickening out of a long-ago pledge to call the killings of more than 1 million Armenians by Ottoman Turks a "genocide" when he commemorates the 100th anniversary of the deaths Friday.

The Los Angeles Times, citing an unnamed senior administration official, reports the White House expects Obama will mark "the historical significance" of the "Meds Yeghern," as the massacres are known in Armenian, in his annual statement at the commemoration from the U.S.

As a presidential candidate in 2008, Obama issued a statement promising to describe the plight of the Armenians as a genocide, but in his previous five statements he hasn't done so to avoid damaging diplomatic relations with Turkey — a NATO ally and U.S. partner in conflicts in Iraq and Syria, Politico reports.

"The president's surrender represents a national disgrace," a fuming Aram Hamparian, executive director of the Armenian National Committee of America, told the LA Times. "It is a betrayal of the truth, and it is a betrayal of trust."

"We know and respect that there are some who are hoping to hear different language this year," the unnamed administration official told the newspaper. "We understand their perspective."

But, the White House official said, "The approach we have taken in previous years remains the right one — both for acknowledging the past, and for our ability to work with regional partners to save lives in the present."

Activists had hoped Obama would be emboldened to finally deliver on his pledge in the wake of Pope Francis' brave and surprising reference to genocide earlier this month.

Instead, National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said the U.S. would use the anniversary of the massacres to "urge a full, frank, and just acknowledgment of the facts that we believe is in the interest of all parties."

The president is sending Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to Armenia this week to represent the United States at a commemoration, and although the White House didn't say who else might travel with Lew to Friday's event at the Dzidzernagapert Memorial in Armenia's capital of Yerevan, California Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier told Politico she'd be a part of the delegation.

"From an early age, my mother instilled in me the importance of recognizing the genocide and the anxiety that the Armenian people feel about the need to acknowledge it," she told Politico. "It’s long past time for our government to speak clearly about history."

Politico also reports the White House also considered sending U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, who has written in detail about the Armenian genocide. However, she is not expected to join the trip.

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President Barack Obama is chickening out of a long-ago pledge to call the killings of more than 1 million Armenians by Ottoman Turks a "genocide" when he commemorates the 100th anniversary of the deaths Friday.
Armenian, genocide, massacre, Turkey, Obama, statement, annual, campaign, promise, 1915, Friday, Ottoman Empire
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2015-10-21
Tuesday, 21 Apr 2015 10:10 PM
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