Turkey accuses France of 'genocide' in Algeria
Published 24/12/2011 | 05:00
TURKEY'S prime minister last night accused France of conducting a "merciless" genocide in Algeria as he responded furiously to a vote in the French parliament concerning the mass killing of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan froze all diplomatic contact with France and recalled the Turkish ambassador after the Chamber of Deputies in Paris passed a bill on Thursday making it a criminal offence to question the "genocide" of the Armenians in 1915.
Up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed across Ottoman Turkey after the regime accused them of being in league with the country's enemies during World War One. Turkey has waged a diplomatic campaign ever since to quash any suggestion that it was guilty of "genocide".
France, which has about 500,000 citizens of Armenian descent, officially recognised the deaths as "genocide" in 2001. This week's vote would impose a prison term on anyone who denies this. But the bill still needs the approval of the upper house before it becomes law.
Nonetheless, Mr Erdogan denounced the vote as a "clear example of how racism, discrimination and anti-Muslim sentiment have reached new heights in France and in Europe".
He noted that President Nicolas Sarkozy faces re-election in April, adding: "Sarkozy's ambition is to win an election based on promoting animosity against Turks and Muslims."
Mr Erdogan turned to France's colonial record in Algeria, where an eight-year war was waged for independence between 1954 and 1962. "What the French did in Algeria was genocide," said the prime minister, alleging that French forces had "mercilessly martyred" about 15pc of the entire Algerian population. (©Daily Telegraph, London)