Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Recep Tayyip Erdogan Reuters

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday urged US President Joe Biden to swiftly reverse his declaration that the 1915 massacres of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire constituted genocide, Reuters reports.

In his first comments since Biden's statement on Saturday, Erdogan said "the wrong step" would hinder ties, advised the United States to "look in the mirror," and added Turkey still sought to establish "good neighborly" ties with Armenia.

"The US President has made baseless, unjust and untrue remarks about the sad events that took place in our geography over a century ago," Erdogan said after a cabinet meeting. He again called for Turkish and Armenian historians to form a joint commission to investigate the events.

"I hope the US President will turn back from this wrong step as soon as possible," added Erdogan.

"If you say genocide, then you need to look at yourselves in the mirror and make an evaluation. The Native Americans, I don't even need to mention them, what happened is clear," he continued. "While all these truths are out there, you cannot pin the genocide accusation on the Turkish people."

Erdogan also contested the death toll from the 1915 killings and said some 150,000 people had been killed, as opposed to the roughly 1.5 million people Armenia says were killed, adding the toll was "exaggerated by adding a zero to the end."

Biden on Friday informed Erdogan of his intention to recognize the genocide, in the first phone call between the two leaders since Biden's inauguration in January.

In December of 2019, the US Senate unanimously passed a resolution that recognizes the mass killings of Armenians as a genocide.

In 2016, Germany recognized the massacre of the Armenians as a genocide, similarly raising the ire of Turkey which recalled its ambassador to Germany.

Earlier that year, Turkey similarly pulled its ambassador to Austria after the European nation recognized the Armenian genocide.

Russia also has recognized the Armenian genocide, angering NATO-member Turkey.

Former US President Barack Obama had chosen not to recognize the genocide, despite an election promise he made during his 2008 presidential campaign to do so.