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Recognizing the Armenian genocide

by AirTalk®

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An Armenian man waves his national flag along with the Syrian national flag during a march north of the Lebanese capital Beirut, to commemorate the 98th anniversary of the Ottoman Turkish genocide against the Armenian people on April 24, 2013. -/AFP/Getty Images

Today, Wednesday April 24th, marks the annual remembrance day for the estimated 1.5 million Armenians who died in the former Ottoman Empire, present day Turkey.

President Obama's official statement for Armenian Remembrance Day did not include the word "genocide" despite a 2008 campaign promise to recognize the deaths of Armenians as such. "America deserves a leader who speaks truthfully about the Armenian Genocide and responds forcefully to all genocides," Obama said in 2008. "I intend to be that president."

Several California legislators including Rep. Brad Sherman and Rep. Adam Schiff called on Obama to use the word "genocide" but so far the White House has resisted.

Why is using the term genocide still a politically touchy subject? Is the US concerned about preserving its strategic relationship with Turkey? What would be the political fallout if the President did use the term genocide? How is this omission seen by the local Armenian and Turkish communities?

Steven Cook, senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations

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