Tribune. By his official declaration of April 24, day of commemoration of the Armenian genocide, Joe Biden becomes the first American president in office to affirm unequivocally the reality of this genocide. It is a strong act, by which it breaks with a long tradition of refusal of recognition of the Armenian genocide by the American executive, primarily to spare Turkey, a NATO ally, which firmly and for a long time opposed to any progress in this area.
In doing so, Joe Biden sets himself apart from his predecessors, most of whom, Barack Obama included, had promised to recognize the genocide during their presidential campaign and refused to do so once elected, apparently unable to resist pressure from Turkey and of its many relays in Washington.
It is therefore necessary to take the full measure of this decision of the American president which makes fully integrate in the United States the camp of States and international institutions which recognized the genocide of 1915. And corresponds to a major paradigm shift on a sensitive question.
A predictable change of course
Many observers expected this turnaround. Over the decades, the traditional line of the US executive had become less and less tenable. Almost non-existent in the 1970s, when this position was essentially forged by the State Department, academic research on the Armenian genocide has developed considerably in recent decades, making the genocidal nature of the massacres of 1915-1917 indisputable.
At the same time, Congress, at the instigation of the Armenian-American community, has taken a position on the issue on numerous occasions, including at the end of 2019 by the vote by both chambers of a resolution recognizing the genocide. Joe Biden himself participated in this dynamic in Congress when he was a senator (1973-2009) by supporting numerous resolutions dealing with the issue.
Considered close to Armenian-Americans, he also pledged during the 2020 presidential campaign to recognize the genocide. More recently, its Secretary of State, Antony Blinken also hinted that recognition as early as April was possible.
Relief for Armenian Americans
Finally, what suggested that the American presidency could, in 2021, engage in this direction is due to the fact that the excesses of the Turkish regime of Recep Tayyip Erdogan are increasingly badly perceived across the Atlantic and that Turkey appears to less and less like an ally to be spared. Ankara’s relays and friends in Washington – who traditionally mobilize when it comes to the recognition of the genocide by the United States – are also therefore less numerous and powerful.
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