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Obama Still Won't Refer To The Armenian Genocide As A 'Genocide'

A boy looks at a mural commemorating the 1915 Armenian Genocide on Hollywood Boulevard near a rally on the 99th anniversary of the event (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
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President Barack Obama won't be using the word "genocide" to describe the Armenian Genocide this Friday, disappointing Armenian-Americans as they strive to have the events officially recognized as such by the American and Turkish governments.This Friday's Genocide Remembrance Day commemorates the centennial of the Armenian Genocide, which was the systematic massacre of an estimated 1.5 million ethnic Armenians by the Ottoman Empire during the First World War. Although Obama pledged as a senator and candidate to officially recognize the event as a genocide, and even criticized the Bush administration over it, he has yet to do so as President himself. His decision to not recognize it this week was revealed in a meeting with Armenian-American groups on Tuesday, according to the L.A. Times.

Congressman Adam Schiff, whose district includes Glendale and Burbank and has the largest Armenian-American population in the country, told KCRW he was "deeply disappointed" in the President's decision and called it "unconscionable." Turkey, the descendant of the Ottoman Empire, has long denied that the events constitute the definition of "genocide." White House officials say that move is necessary in order maintain a good relationship with Turkey, a key ally in Middle East conflicts.

Turkey has long contended that the killings were merely a regrettable result of the war and not part of a greater program to exterminate ethnic Armenians.

Obama will commemorate the events on Friday, though he will be referring to it by the Armenian name Medz Yeghern, which translates to "Great Crime."

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Although the United States has long avoided referring to the killings as a "genocide," it is recognized as such by 43 states (including California) and 24 countries. Earlier this month Pope Francis referred to the events as "the first genocide of the 20th Century," angering Turkey and prompting them to pull their ambassador from the Vatican.