As the United States continues to avoid the word "genocide" when recognizing the Armenian genocide, France marked its first "national day of commemoration of the Armenian genocide" on Wednesday, according to France 24.
Though France has recognized the Armenian genocide since 2001, President Macron announced in February of this year that the country would commemorate the horrific historical event as a way to "look history in the face."
The Armenian genocide happened under the Islamic Ottoman Empire (now Turkey) in 1915, with an estimated death toll of 1.5 million people, most of whom were Christian. Turkey has refused to accept responsibility for the genocide, alleging that the figures are overblown or stemmed from civil conflicts as a result of World War I. The government also routinely heckles nations or leaders that recognize the genocide for what it is: genocide. Just this year, when Macron announced the day of commemoration, Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan denounced him as a "political novice" while accusing him of hypocrisy.
"If we look at those trying to give lessons on human rights or democracy to Turkey on the Armenian question and the fight against terrorism, we see that they all have a bloody past," Erdogan said.
When Pope Francis referred to the 1915 mass killings as a genocide in 2015, the Turkish government said the Holy Father was not living in "historical reality."
"The Pope's statement, which is far from the legal and historical reality, cannot be accepted," Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu tweeted at the time. "Religious authorities are not the places to incite resentment and hatred with baseless allegations."
The commemorations in France were led by French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Wednesday, who laid flowers at the Monument for the Armenian Genocide situated on the northern bank of the river Seine.
"France intends to contribute to the recognition of the Armenian genocide as a crime against humanity, against civilization," said Philippe. "It will not be impressed by any lies, by any pressure, what we are looking for is historical accuracy and reconciliation."
This year, as Armenians across the world commemorated the genocide, Erdogan even said that deporting Armenians was the "right" thing to do at the time, referring to them as "Armenian gangs" that massacred Muslim people, according to Bloomberg.
"The relocation of the Armenian gangs and their supporters, who massacred the Muslim people, including women and children, in eastern Anatolia, was the most reasonable action that could be taken in such a period," Erdogan said in a Twitter post in English. "We see that those who attempt to lecture us on human rights over the Armenian issue themselves have a bloody past."
Unfortunately, the White House has, once again, stopped short of recognizing the Armenian genocide this year by calling it "one of the worst mass atrocities of the 20th century."
"Today, we commemorate the Meds Yeghern and honor the memory of those who suffered in one of the worst mass atrocities of the 20th century," the White House said in a lengthy statement. "Beginning in 1915, one and a half million Armenians were deported, massacred, or marched to their deaths in the final years of the Ottoman Empire."
Every President since Ronald Reagan in 1981 has used this type of language in reference to the Armenian genocide.