Obama calls 1915 Armenia massacre an atrocity

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama yesterday marked the World War One-era massacre of Armenians by  Turkish forces, calling it one of the worst atrocities of the  20th century, but avoiding any mention of “genocide.”

Turkey objects to the killings being labelled “genocide” and  Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said Obama’s remarks took  into consideration “the sensitivities” of his country. But a  US-based Armenian group said it was disappointed in Obama.

“On this solemn day of remembrance, we pause to recall that 95 years ago one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century  began. In that dark moment of history, 1.5 million Armenians  were massacred or marched to their death in the final days of  the Ottoman Empire,” Obama said in a statement issued by the  White House.

His remarks came as Armenia marked the 95th anniversary of  the World War One killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks, and  against a backdrop of failed peace with Turkey and fresh saber  rattling with enemy Azerbaijan.

A deal between Turkey and Armenia to establish diplomatic  ties and reopen their border collapsed on Thursday when Armenia  suspended ratification over Turkish demands that it first make  peace with Azerbaijan over the breakaway region of  Nagorno-Karabakh.  Obama used the term genocide as a presidential candidate,  but not since becoming president in January 2009.

He said the 1915 massacre must not be repeated, but  carefully avoided getting entangled in the debate over whether  Turkey was responsible for genocide against the Armenians.

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