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
"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".