Armenia rejoiced but Turkey was furious on Wednesday after the US House of Representatives passed a historic resolution recognizing mass killings of Armenians a century ago as genocide.
With tensions already high over Turkey’s assault on Kurdish-controlled areas of northern Syria, US lawmakers voted 405 to 11 on Tuesday in support of the measure to “commemorate the Armenian Genocide through official recognition and remembrance.”
The move was a first for the US Congress, where similar measures with such direct language have been introduced for decades but never passed.
The resolution says the killing of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1923 amounted to genocide, a claim recognized by some 30 countries
Turkey strongly denies the accusation of genocide and says that both Armenians and Turks died as a result of the First World War. It puts the death toll in the hundreds of thousands.
Ankara was swift to condemn the US vote, summoning the American ambassador to Ankara and calling it a “meaningless political step”.
“This step which was taken is worthless and we do not recognise it,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a televised speech.
Ties between Washington and NATO member Turkey have been strained by Ankara’s offensive against Kurdish fighters in northern Syria, which came after US forces withdrew from the area.