Armenia row: Turkey accuses France of genocide
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Last Updated: Saturday, December 24, 2011, 00:10
  
Istanbul: The war of words between France and Turkey escalated dramatically on Friday, when the Turkish Premier accused Paris of committing genocide in Algeria and of stirring hatred of Muslims.

Furious that French lawmakers had voted yesterday to outlaw denial of the 1915 Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan hit back directly at France's President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Earlier, Turkey's ambassador to France had left Paris and Ankara had announced diplomatic sanctions -- banning political visits between the countries -- and frozen military ties between the nominal NATO allies.

"France massacred an estimated 15 per cent of the Algerian population starting from 1945. This is genocide," Erdogan told reporters, accusing Sarkozy of "fanning hatred of Muslims and Turks for electoral gains."

"This vote that took place in France, a France in which five million Muslims live, clearly shows to what point racism, discrimination and Islamophobia have reached dangerous levels in France and Europe," he said.

Paris appeared to have been caught out by the fury of Turkey's response.

"I respect the views of our Turkish friends -- it's a great country, a great civilisation -- and they must respect ours," Sarkozy said in Prague where he was at the funeral of late Czech president Vaclav Havel.

France fought a long guerilla war between 1954 and 1962 to try to hang on to its Algerian colony. Estimates for the number of dead vary wildly. Algeria puts it at more than a million, French historians estimate 250,000.

Citing earlier French action against Algerian rebels in the aftermath of World War II, Erdogan said Sarkozy's father had been a French legionnaire in Algeria in 1945 and should be able to tell his son of "massacres".

PTI


First Published: Friday, December 23, 2011, 21:31


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