Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Friday 23 April |
Saint of the Day: St. George
home iconNews
line break icon

Trump, sticking with recent precedent, avoids saying “Armenian genocide”

John Burger - published on 04/25/17

White House statement suggests Turkish "reckoning with painful history."

In the days preceding the annual observance of the severe persecution of Armenians living under the Ottoman Empire in the early 20th century, there was some hope that President Donald J. Trump would break with recent precedent and use the term “genocide.” After all, President Trump has gained a reputation for speaking his mind and at times seeming to ignore diplomatic niceties.

The president’s statement on Monday marking the 102nd anniversary of the beginning of the Armenian genocide kept with recent precedent, however.

“Today, we remember and honor the memory of those who suffered during the Meds Yeghern, one of the worst mass atrocities of the 20th century,” Trump’s statement began. “Beginning in 1915, one and a half million Armenians were deported, massacred, or marched to their deaths in the final years of the Ottoman Empire. I join the Armenian community in America and around the world in mourning the loss of innocent lives and the suffering endured by so many.”

Trump’s avoidance of the term genocide is in keeping with the policy of his four immediate predecessors, Presidents George H.W Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama, apparently to avoid offending Turkey, a U.S. ally.

Turkey’s reaction to the use of the word “genocide” was on full display two years ago, when Pope Francis commemorated the centennial of the massacre of Armenians, calling it “the century’s first genocide.” Ankara recalled its Vatican ambassador in protest.

Prior U.S. presidents, including Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, did use the expression “Armenian genocide” however, but then the expression was dropped from White House statements.

Trump, in his statement, seemed to allude to a hope that even Turks would come to acknowledge the genocide.

“We must remember atrocities to prevent them from occurring again,” Trump said. “We welcome the efforts of Turks and Armenians to acknowledge and reckon with painful history, which is a critical step toward building a foundation for a more just and tolerant future.”

He also paid tribute to the “resilience of the Armenian people” and the contribution made to the United States by those fleeing their homelands and building a new life in America.

“As we reflect on this dark chapter of human history, we also recognize the resilience of the Armenian people,” he said. “Many built new lives in the United States and made indelible contributions to our country, while cherishing memories of the historic homeland in which their ancestors established one of the great civilizations of antiquity.”

The Turkish government has maintained that the events took place in the midst of the First World War and that many Muslims suffered as well. Turkey has also claimed that Armenians planned to side with the Ottomans’ enemy, Russia.

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Cerith Gardiner
New study shows that these 2 childhood habits make you a happier ...
Philip Kosloski
5 Fascinating facts about Jesus in the Eucharist
Bret Thoman, OFS
“Jesus, you take care of it”: Prayer of a priest Padr...
Bret Thoman, OFS
What Padre Pio saw in the Spanish Flu of 1918
Philip Kosloski
Padre Pio’s favorite prayer of petition
Eric Clapton, Luciano Pavarotti, East London Gospel Choir
J-P Mauro
Hear Clapton and Pavarotti sing a prayer to the “Holy Mothe...
Philip Kosloski
Catholic prayers for anxiety
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.