Joe Biden will hear directly from Turkish President Recep Erdogan how his recent statement on the Armenian genocide ‘disturbed and upset us’ during their one-on-one meeting Monday, the NATO ally said, reports the Daily Mail.
Erdogan is set to meet with Biden in a key bilateral meeting at the NATO summit in Brussels. It will be their first sit-down since Biden’s official White House statement on the subject infuriated the Erdogan government.
‘An ally country taking such a stance on an issue that has nothing to do with NATO, the issue of Armenians, has disturbed and upset us. It is not possible to go on without reminding (Biden of) this,’ Erdogan said in comments before traveling to the summit.
He said he would also raise the White House recognition of the 1915 massacres of Armenians during the then Ottoman Empire as ‘genocide.’ He will revisit the issue after taking a more restrained approach than some analysts expected after the initial April statement.
He also plans to raise U.S. removal of Turkey from an F-35 fighter jet program amid security concerns over its purchase of Russian-made air defenses. Turkey accepts that many Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire were killed in clashes with Ottoman forces in World War One, but denies the killings were systematically orchestrated and constitute genocide. After years of debate in Washington, the White House in April released a statement on the historical event that resulted in the deaths of 1.5 million.
‘Each year on this day, we remember the lives of all those who died in the Ottoman-era Armenian genocide and recommit ourselves to preventing such an atrocity from ever again occurring,’ Biden said in the official White House statement.
‘And we remember so that we remain ever vigilant against the corrosive influence of hate in all its forms,’ he said.
Erdogan had to wait three months after Biden’s inauguration for their first contact, an awkward phone call in April when the U.S. president informed him of the genocide-recognition plan.
‘We need to put Turkey-U.S. ties on the table first-hand,’ Erdogan told reporters at Istanbul’s airport on Sunday.
‘There was a lot of gossip internally and externally, so we need to talk about how we can leave these troubles behind, what we can do and what we will do. Turkey is not just any country – it is an allied country.’
The cooler ties between the two NATO members underline an array of disputes including over U.S. support for Syrian fighters deemed terrorists by Turkey and more vocal U.S. criticism of Ankara’s human rights record.
Photo by Associated Press