Turkey says any U.S. recognition of Armenian genocide would further harm ties

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ANKARA, TURKEY - JUNE 25: Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu addresses the Representatives of the American Muslim Community at the Foreign Ministry Building in Ankara, Turkey on June 25, 2018. Mustafa Kamaci / Anadolu Agency

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday that any move by U.S. President Joe Biden to recognize the 1915 mass killings of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire as a genocide will further harm already strained ties between the NATO allies, Reuters reports.

Asked in an interview with broadcaster Haberturk about whether Biden would recognize the killings as a genocide amid reports he would be the first U.S. president to do so, Cavusoglu said the United States “needs to respect international law.”

“Statements that have no legal binding will have no benefit, but they will harm ties,” Cavusoglu said. “If the United States wants to worsen ties, the decision is theirs,” he said.

In 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate passed resolutions recognizing the killings as a genocide, in a historic move that infuriated Turkey

Ties between Ankara and Washington have been strained over a host of issues, from Turkey’s purchase of Russian S-400 defence systems – over which it was the target of U.S. sanctions – to policy differences in Syria, human rights and legal matters.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan established a close bond with former U.S. President Donald Trump, but he has yet to speak to Biden since he became president on Jan. 20. Officials from Turkey and the United States have held talks since Biden’s administration took office.

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