Why Biden recognised the Armenian genocide

Turkey’s relationship with the United States, the world’s most important country, the biggest economy, the country with the largest geopolitical influence and the one most of the rest of the states have many reasons to want her as a close ally, has been upset with Joe Biden’s decision to recognise the Armenian genocide.

With this action, the U.S. sent the message that it does not ascribe to Turkey the same importance that it held for decades in the eyes of all previous administrations. The alliance will continue, but the context will be different.

But why did this happen now? Mainly for three reasons:

First, President Biden has a very close relationship with the Armenian community in the U.S. (same as he does with the Greek one) and there are some leaders that do keep their promises to the voters.

Second, Tayyip Erdoğan’s behaviour has rubbed the entire U.S. political system the wrong way. With his anti-western rhetoric, the attacks on Israel, his special relationship with Putin, the Turkish President has achieved something not easy, turn both parties in the U.S. against him.

His “friendship” with Donald Trump was personal and did not reflect the attitude of the majority of the Republican party toward him.

With the intense frustration developing in Washington for Erdoğan’s behaviour, mostly regarding the acquisition of the S-400 air-defence system from Russia, but also his moves on other fronts, such as Syria and, to a lesser extent, in the Aegean and eastern Mediterranean, moves that the U.S. opposes, the number of influential people in positions of power in Washington that are friendly to Ankara keeps decreasing.

The third reason that Joe Biden decided to recognise the Armenian genocide, maybe the most important, is the U.S. President’s character and personality.

Biden is part of a rare breed of politicians who believe in principles and values, without this precluding his being realist, as shown in certain cases.

The U.S. President believes that, in order for a country to be a real friend and ally to the U.S., and not a momentary partner, it must respect democratic freedoms and human rights and to follow rules in its international behaviour, something it is now quite clear is not the case with the unpredictable Turkish President who envisages a “Great” Turkey, which would extent to the “borders of (his) heart.”

(A version of this article was originally published by the Kathimerini and reproduced by permission.)

The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Ahval.