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Tense Moments at the State Dept. When Reporters Grill Spokeswoman Over Why Obama Hasn't Fulfilled This Campaign Promise

Tense Moments at the State Dept. When Reporters Grill Spokeswoman Over Why Obama Hasn't Fulfilled This Campaign Promise

"We make decisions on our own about what we say and how we talk about things."

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf was grilled by reporters on Wednesday over the Obama administration's continued refusal to label the death of 1.5 million Armenians in 1915 a "genocide."

Harf repeatedly acknowledged that officials are aware that some had hoped for "different language," but said that the government believes its current handling of the matter is most appropriate, despite President Barack Obama's past campaign pledge to label the atrocities a genocide.

"We know that there were some who I think were hoping to hear some different language this year," Harf said, as reporters inquired about why no change has been made. "Even as we believe that the approach we have taken in previous years remains the right one � both for acknowledging the past and for our ability to work with regional partners to save lives in the future."

The spokeswoman went on the say that Obama has consistently shared his views about the Ottoman Empire's decision to expel or murder the Christians living under its rule, but when asked specifically if Obama believes that the event was, indeed, a genocide, she declined to answer and repeatedly pointed reporters to the White House for a response.

Watch Harf's tense discussion with reporters below:

As TheBlaze has previously reported, the Armenian issue remains sensitive, as Turkey denies that the Christian deaths at the hands of Ottoman rulers amounted to a �genocide� and were, instead, the result of unrest; the former empire's capital was in modern-day Turkey.

Harf went on to push back against reporters' questioning of whether Obama's refusal to make good on his campaign promise should also cause the public to question his claims about other issues, notably Iran's apparent inability to acquire a nuclear weapon.

"I certainly don't believe that people should equate the two in any way," she said. "I don't think you should compare any of these issues."

Harf also admitted that the State Department internally discussed how to frame the Armenian issue, and avoided answering whether the relationship between the U.S. and Turkey was so fragile that calling the event what it was would prove diplomatically problematic.

"We make decisions on our own about what we say and how we talk about things," she said, adding that the government's message has been consistent. "I think you will hear the president speak very strongly about the historical fact that 1.5 million Armenians were massacred or marched to their deaths in the final days of the Ottoman Empire."

As previously reported by TheBlaze's Mike Opelka, the U.S. has traditionally shied away from labeling the horrific event that led to the deaths of 1.5 million Armenians a "genocide."

As for Turkey, it's likely that its leaders do not want to use the term "genocide" because it would likely cost them considerable sums of money in reparations, as well as public embarrassment � and, as for America, no U.S. president has ever called the event "genocide."

State Department officials reportedly recently rejected considerations of changing language over fears that it would impede Turkey's cooperation in the ongoing battle against the Islamic State, Foreign Policy reported.

But the decision not to change course differs greatly from Obama's past statements on the matter.

It was in 2008 that then-presidential candidate Obama said, �There was a genocide that did take place against the Armenian people," taking aim at the "constant denial" by the Turkish government.

Like his predecessors, though, none of the statements issued under his administration have reflected this language.

Watch then-candidate Obama call the event a "genocide" below:

Read more about this history here.


Be sure to tune into "The Root: Christian Holocaust," a special that will explore the Armenian genocide and the Islamic State's current reign of terror, on Thursday at 5 p.m. ET on TheBlaze TV. 

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