WASHINGTON, DC — U.S. President Barack Obama again declined to term the 1915 Armenian massacres in the Ottoman Empire a genocide on Tuesday as he paid tribute to the victims of what he described as “one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century.”
As he did in his previous statements on April 24, Obama used the Armenian phrase Meds Yeghern, or Great Calamity, to commemorate the 97th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide
President Barack Obama’s Statement
Today, we commemorate the Meds Yeghern, one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century. In doing so, we honor the memory of the 1.5 million Armenians who were brutally massacred or marched to their deaths in the waning days of the Ottoman Empire. As we reflect on the unspeakable suffering that took place 97 years ago, we join millions who do the same across the globe and here in America, where it is solemnly commemorated by our states, institutions, communities, and families. Through our words and our deeds, it is our obligation to keep the flame of memory of those who perished burning bright and to ensure that such dark chapters of history are never repeated.
I have consistently stated my own view of what occurred in 1915. My view of that history has not changed. A full, frank, and just acknowledgement of the facts is in all of our interests. Moving forward with the future cannot be done without reckoning with the facts of the past. The United States has done so many times in our own history, and I believe we are stronger for it. Some individuals have already taken this courageous step forward. We applaud those Armenians and Turks who have taken this path, and we hope that many more will choose it, with the support of their governments, as well as mine.
Although the lives that were taken can never be returned, the legacy of the Armenian people is one of triumph. Your faith, courage, and strength have enabled you to survive and prosper, establishing vibrant communities around the world. Undaunted, you have preserved your patrimony, passing it from generation to generation. Armenian-Americans have made manifold contributions to the vibrancy of the United States, as well as critical investments in a democratic, peaceful, and prosperous future for Armenia. The United States is proud of your heritage, and your contributions honor the memory of those who senselessly suffered and died nearly a century ago.
On this solemn day of remembrance, we stand alongside all Armenians in recalling the darkness of the Meds Yeghern and in committing to bringing a brighter future to the people of Armenia.