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Armenian Reaction Mixed To Obama's Statement On Massacres


An elderly man carries flowers to the genocide memorial in Yerevan on April 24.

An elderly man carries flowers to the genocide memorial in Yerevan on April 24.

YEREVAN -- Armenian Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian has said that Armenians expected U.S. President Barack Obama to refer to the mass killings of ethnic Armenians nearly 100 years ago as "genocide."

Nalbandian told RFE/RL's Armenian Service that "both the terms genocide and Mets Yeghern" -- an Armenian term that means "great catastrophe" -- are acceptable and the statement was "a step forward."

While Armenian-American advocacy groups were more critical, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation party's Armen Rustamian said Yerevan is "at least indirectly" responsible for Obama's language because of improved Turkish-Armenian relations.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry called Obama's statement "unbalanced" and "unacceptable."

In a statement issued on April 24 to mark the 94th anniversary of the 1915-19 massacres of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey, Obama disappointed many Armenians by not using the word "genocide."

In the past he has referred to the events as genocide "supported by an overwhelming body of historical evidence."
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