“Today we commemorate the Meds Yeghern and honor those who perished in one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century,” said U.S. President Barack Obama.
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. President Barack Obama described events of 1915 involving Armenians within the Ottoman Empire as “Meds Yeghern,” an Armenian term meaning “great calamity” in a statement released on Thursday.
In using the term, Obama again refrained, as he did last year, from describing the events as “genocide,” which he did during his first presidential campaign.
“Today we commemorate the Meds Yeghern and honor those who perished in one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century,” said Obama. “We recall the horror of what happened ninety-nine years ago, when 1.5 million Armenians were massacred or marched to their deaths in the final days of the Ottoman Empire.”
“I have consistently stated my own view of what occurred in 1915, and my view has not changed,” said Obama.
Exactly what unfolded in 1915 continues to be a contentious issue between Turkey and Armenia that has proven a spoiler in relations between the two neighboring states.
Armenia and the Armenian diaspora claim that nothing short of genocide occurred at the hands of Ottoman authorities under a relocation order of some ethnic Armenians. But Turkey says that both Turks and Armenians died during clashes between Ottoman forces and armed Armenian groups backed by Russia.
In his statement, Obama called for a “full, frank, and just acknowledgement” of the events, saying, “Peoples and nations grow stronger, and build a foundation for a more just and tolerant future, by acknowledging and reckoning with painful elements of the past.”
On Wednesday, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish Prime Minister, released a statement in nine languages, including Armenian, in which he offered condolences to the descendants of Armenians killed during World War I.
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