Barack Obama today downplayed his support for a controversial US Congress resolution accusing Turkey of carrying out a genocide against the Armenian people in 1915.
Speaking during a visit to Ankara, the US president – who has previously described the deaths of 1.5 million Armenians as "genocide" – said he had not changed his view but had been encouraged by negotiations between Turkey and Armenia on the issue.
Obama told a joint news conference with the Turkish president, Abdullah Gul, that he did not want to focus on his own views but wanted to be a partner in efforts between Armenia and Turkey to come to terms with what happened.
Presidents, once in office, are always "encouraged" by bilateral progress on the issue. Even if, just one year previous, they say stuff like this:
I also share with Armenian Americans – so many of whom are descended from genocide survivors—a principled commitment to commemorating and ending genocide. That starts with acknowledging the tragic instances of genocide in world history. As a U.S. Senator, I have stood with the Armenian American community in calling for Turkey's acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide. Two years ago, I criticized the Secretary of State for the firing of U.S. Ambassador to Armenia, John Evans, after he properly used the term "genocide" to describe Turkey's slaughter of thousands of Armenians starting in 1915. I shared with Secretary Rice my firmly held conviction that the Armenian Genocide is not an allegation, a personal opinion, or a point of view, but rather a widely documented fact supported by an overwhelming body of historical evidence. The facts are undeniable. An official policy that calls on diplomats to distort the historical facts is an untenable policy. As a senator, I strongly support passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.Res.106 and S.Res.106), and as President I will recognize the Armenian Genocide.
Obama's double-talk is becoming a feature, not a bug.