U.S. President Barack Obama has once again avoided using the word “genocide” in his remarks to commemorate the killings of Armenians in 1915, describing it as “Meds Yeghern,” an Armenian term meaning “great calamity.”
“Today we commemorate the Meds Yeghern and honor those who perished in one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century,” Obama said in a statement April 24.
Obama, who is currently on a trip to Japan, has chosen to opt for this wording in all his commemorative statements on April 24 since he came into office.
Turkey rejects that the events amounted to “genocide,” claiming the killings should be understood in the context of World War I.
Obama also called for the acnowledgment and reckoning of the past. “We recognize and commend the growing number of courageous Armenians and Turks who have already taken this path, and encourage more to do so, with the backing of their governments, and mine,” the statement also said.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan this year released a landmark statement in which he stressed the “shared pain” and offered condolences to the descendants of the victims of the killings.
The U.S. State Department welcomed Erdoğan’s statement, describing it as a “historic public acknowledgement” and encouraged Ankara to undertake further steps for reconciliation.