U.S. President Donald J. Trump has avoided uttering the term “genocide” to define mass killing of ethnic Armenians at the hands of Ottomans in 1915, emulating his predecessor in describing the killings as “Meds Yeghern” — the Great Tragedy.
“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,” Mr. Trump said in a statement.
“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,” the statement released on Monday said.
Calling the 1915 killings as the “dark chapter of human history,” Mr. Trump said “we also recognize the resilience of the Armenian people,” as many of them built new lives in the United States.
“We must remember atrocities to prevent them from occurring again. We welcome the efforts of Turks and Armenians to acknowledge and reckon with the painful history, which is a critical step toward building a foundation for a more just and tolerant future,” the president concluded.
White House spokesperson Sean Spicer defended Mr. Trump for not using the term “genocide” in the statement.
“The statement that was put out is consistent with the statements that have been put out for at least several of the past administrations,” Mr. Spicer said during the daily press briefing. He recalled similar statements by previous presidents such as Barack Obama and George W. Bush, and said “the language the President used is consistent with all of that.”