Armenians: Obama broke promise over massacres
Obama followed recent US diplomatic tradition by issuing a written statement on Armenian Remembrance Day, branding the killings of more than 1.5 million people as "one of the great atrocities of the 20th century."
Brussels -- A group representing Armenians in Europe fiercely criticised US President Barack Obama for having broken a promise to describe the 1915 massacres of Armenians by Ottoman Turks as genocide.
"President Obama did not honour his promise to use the term 'genocide'... as he promised to do many times before his election," said a statement from the Brussels-based Euro-Armenian Federation after the president's statement Friday.
He had dashed the hopes of millions of Americans and Europeans who wanted the US president to break with "the cynical practices of his predecessors," the statement continued.
"He also casts discredit on his own word and on the credibility of the United States in the world in general and in the southern Caucasus in particular," it said.
On Friday, Obama followed recent US diplomatic tradition by issuing a written statement on Armenian Remembrance Day, branding the killings of more than 1.5 million people as "one of the great atrocities of the 20th century."
The figure of 1.5 million is disputed by Turkey.
But Obama did not call the massacres "genocide," despite having vowed to use that exact term during his run for the White House.
He used instead the Armenian term for the killings, "Meds Yeghern" which has been variously translated as "The Great Calamity" or "Great Disaster."
On Saturday, Turkey's foreign ministry criticised Obama's statement as "unbalanced" and that it made no mention of the "several hundreds of thousands of Turks" killed in the fighting.
Armenians say 1.5 million of their people were victims of systematic killings from 1915, and many countries, including Canada and France, have officially recognised the killings as such.
Turkey rejects the genocide label, arguing that 300,000-500,000 Armenians and at least as many Turks died in civil strife when Armenians took up arms in eastern Anatolia and sided with invading Russian troops.