By Brototi Roy:
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan turned his anger towards French President Nicolas Sarkozy last Friday in a historical row over genocide, accusing France of colonial massacres in Algeria deepening its acrimonious rift with France.
Erdogan returned to the attack a day after the lower house of the French parliament voted to make it a crime to deny that mass killings of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey in 1915 amounted to genocide.
Personalizing the standoff, he said on live television that Sarkozy’s father might have direct knowledge about French “massacres” in Algeria, where Algerians were “martyred mercilessly” and “en masse.””In Algeria from 1945, an estimated 15 per cent of the population was massacred by the French. This is a genocide. The Algerians were burned en masse in ovens. They were martyred mercilessly,” Erdogan said.”If the French President Mr. Sarkozy doesn’t know about this genocide, he should go and ask his father, Paul Sarkozy.”His father served in the French Legion in Algeria in the 1940s. I am sure he would have lots to tell his son about the French massacres in Algeria,” the Turkish premier said.
French Foreign Minister Alain JuppÃ© described Turkey’s reaction as “in all likelihood excessive,” but struck a conciliatory tone.The French bill, which will be debated in the Senate next year, has caused outrage in Turkey, which argues killings took place on all sides during a fierce partisan conflict.French MPs voted overwhelmingly on Thursday for a draft law outlawing genocide denial over the Armenian massacres.
Although nearly a century has passed since the killings in the middle of the First World War, the vast majority of Turks feel the charge of genocide is an insult to their nation.
Turkey argues that killings took place on all sides during a fierce partisan conflict.
Mr Erdogan condemned the French bill shortly after the vote, recalled Ankara’s ambassador to France for consultations and cancelled all joint economic, political and military meetings.
Yesterday he said: ‘We will take gradual measures as long as the current French attitude is maintained.‘The voteâ€‰.â€‰.â€‰. has shown how dangerous racism, discrimination and Islamophobia have become in France and Europe.’