Turkish PM Erdogan slams France over Genocide bill

10:04 - 18.12.11

Turkey's prime minister on Saturday sharply criticized France for a
bill that would make it a crime to deny the Armenian Genocide, AP

Saying France should investigate what he claimed was its own "dirty
and bloody history" in Algeria and Rwanda, Recep Tayyip Erdogan
insisted Turkey would respond "through all kinds of diplomatic means."

Historians estimate that up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by
Ottoman Turks as their Empire collapsed, an event many international
experts regard as genocide and that France recognized as such in 2001.
Turkish leaders reject the term, arguing that the toll is inflated,
that there were deaths on both sides and that those killed were
victims of civil war and unrest.

On Dec. 22, the lower house of French Parliament will debate a
proposal that would make denying that the massacre was genocide
punishable by up to a year in prison and 45,000euro ($58,500) in
fines, putting it on par with Holocaust denial, which was banned in
the country in 1990.

Erdogan lashed out at France during a joint news conference with
Mustafa Abdul-Jalil - the chairman of Libya's National Transitional
Council - saying there were reports that France was responsible for
the deaths of 45,000 people in Algeria in 1945 and for the massacre of
up to 800,000 people in Rwanda in 1994.

"No historian, no politician can see genocide in our history," Erdogan
said. "Those who do want to see genocide should turn around and look
at their own dirty and bloody history."

"The French National Assembly should shed light on Algeria, it should
shed light on Rwanda," he said, in his first news conference since
recovering from surgery three weeks ago.

France had troops in Rwanda, and Rwandan President Paul Kagame has
accused the country of doing little to stop the country's genocide.

There was no immediate reaction from France. Ties between the two
countries are already strained by French President Nicolas Sarkozy's
opposition to Turkey's bid to join the European Union.

Erdogan's criticism comes a day after an official said the Turkish
leader had written to Sarkozy warning of grave consequences if the
Armenian Genocide bill is adopted. A Turkish diplomat said Turkey
would withdraw its ambassador to France is the law is passed.

"I hope that the (French Parliament) steps back from the error of
misrepresenting history and of punishing those who deny the historic
lies," Erdogan said. "Turkey will stand against this intentional,
malicious, unjust and illegal attempt through all kinds of diplomatic

Erdogan called the proposed bill a "populist" act, suggesting it was
aimed at winning the votes of Armenian-French in elections in France
next year.


From: A. Papazian