White House Press Secretary uses the term ‘Armenian Genocide’
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany used the term ‘Armenian Genocide’ during a July 6 briefing, causing quite a stir in foreign media.
For many years, the American presidential administration has tried to avoid using the word ‘genocide’ in reference to the massacres and mass deportation of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire at the beginning of the 20th century. Instead, they generally used other expressions, such as the ‘Metz Egern’ [Arm. Great calamity].
The Armenian Genocide was a massacre that took place in Ottoman Turkey in 1915. Before that, about two and a half million Armenians lived on the territory of the Ottoman Empire. As a result of the killings and mass deportation, more than half of them died. Armenia, as well as several western countries and organizations officially recognize those events as genocide. Turkey categorically denies accept this version of the story.
Many Western media sources have already responded to this statement, noting that this move “is contrary to the official position of the United States” and could put President Donald Trump in an awkward position regarding relations with Turkey.
More details about exactly what McEnany said, how foreign media and Armenian-American organizations reacted, what experts think and what Armenians are writing on social media.
What exactly McEnany said
Kayleigh McEnany used the term “Armenian genocide” when she spoke about the consequences of desecrating monuments across the country by members of the Black Lives Matter movement, which began after the tragic death of an African American man named George Floyd.
During the protests against racial discrimination a few weeks ago, the “Armenian Genocide Memorial,” which is located in Denver, was vandalized.
“…there seems to be lack of understanding and historical knowledge, when the Armenian Genocide Memorial remembering victims of all crimes against humanity, including slavery, is being vandalized,” said the White House Press Secretary.
The reaction of Western media and Armenian-American organizations
“[This] move goes against the US government’s official stance and could place President Donald Trump in an awkward position with the Turkish government,” writes Business Insider, which was among the first to respond to the spokesperson’s statement.
The American publication also asked the Department of State whether the statement by the White House spokesman means that the Donald Trump administration is already recognizing the Armenian genocide. The Department of State, in turn, advised the publication to ask the White House spokesperson for an answer:
“The White House did not immediately respond to [our] request,” reported Business Insider, adding that the Turkish Embassy in Washington declined to comment.
The Washington Post has also already responded to the situation:
“The Trump White House finally—if unintentionally—invokes the Armenian genocide…The White House will surely argue that McEnany was simply referring to a memorial by its actual name, but even using that name has been a no-go for many years inside the White House.”
The author of the article writes that the Armenian Assembly of America has also commented on Kayleigh McEnany’s statement.
“We appreciate that the Administration has taken note that the Armenian Genocide memorial in Denver was vandalized and of the need for a better understanding of historical knowledge,” the newspaper writes, quoting the words of the organization’s executive director Bryan Ardouny.
Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs must respond to statement
Political analyst Suren Sargsyan was the first to write a statement about the incident on his Facebook page.
“The term that they try so hard to avoid has (intentionally or accidentally) come directly from the mouth of an official representative of the White House. In any case, I think that the press secretary of the [Armenian] Ministry of Foreign Affairs should respond to this statement and thank them for correctly assessing a known political reality,” the expert wrote.
So far, the Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has yet to comment.
Comments on social media
The statement of the White House Press Secretary has become one of the most heavily discussed topics on social media.
Here are some of the comments:
“Every word spoken by a White House spokesperson has a price, not like empty statements from our party’s spokespeople.”
“It is better not to make our tragedy into a bargaining chip for our political leverage. They had 100 years to recognize the genocide!”
“She just said the name of the memorial – nothing else.”
“Don’t forget that elections are coming soon in the US.”