Turkish PM lashes out at France over over new Armenia genocide law
Patrick Cockburn is an Irish journalist who has been a Middle East correspondent since 1979 for the Financial Times and, presently, The Independent. He was awarded Foreign Commentator of the Year at the 2013 Editorial Intelligence Comment Awards.
Wednesday 25 January 2012
The Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday renewed his personal attack on Nicolas Sarkozy, accusing the French President of racism and anti-Turkish behaviour after the French parliament passed a Bill making it illegal to deny the Armenian genocide. Mr Sarkozy's office said that the law would come into effect in two weeks.
The French law will punish anybody who denies or minimises the massacre of between 1.2 and 1.4 million Armenians on the instructions of the Ottoman authorities in 1915. In a letter to Mr Erdogan, Mr Sarkozy says the law does not target any individual state and urged Ankara to take into account its "common interests" with France.
Mr Erdogan said yesterday that Turkish retaliation would be held back since France might "correct its mistake". This appears unlikely to happen so Turkey may move to withdraw its ambassador and ban French military aircraft and naval vessels from entering Turkish airspace or waters.
More damagingly, Turkey could stop placing large defence orders with French companies and exclude France from winning contracts for nuclear power stations and other big projects.
"What has happened is an effort to gain votes through anti-Turkishness," Mr Erdogan told his AK Party's members of parliament. The French presidential election will take place on 22 April and 6 May and Mr Erdogan, and most Turks, believe he is trying to win the 500,000-strong Armenian vote. As in the past, the Turkish prime minister turned on Mr Sarkozy personally, saying that his grandfather had been part of the Jewish community in Thessaloniki that had been given refuge by the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century after being expelled from Spain by the Inquisition. He said of Mr Sarkozy that "regardless of how much anti-Turkish feeling he displays, his history coincides with the history of Turkey".
Mr Erdogan and many Turks have developed a loathing for Mr Sarkozy, who has also played a leading role in keeping Turkey out of the European Union. He famously said that every school child knew that Europe ended at the Bosphorus.
When the French lower house of parliament first passed the Bill, Mr Erdogan accused France of massacring 15 per cent of the Algerian population after 1945. He added that Mr Sarkozy's father had been a soldier in Algeria at the time.
The French Foreign Minister, Alain Juppé, said the new law was "ill-timed", but called on Ankara to remain calm. "We have very important economic and trade ties," Mr Juppé added. "I hope the reality of the situation will not be usurped by emotions."
There is a limit to what Turkey can do without damaging itself since France is its fifth biggest export market and bilateral trade in the first 10 months of last year was $13.5 billion (£8.65bn).
- 1 Man on naked bike ride gets ejected after becoming aroused
- 4 Ann Summers survey reveals the UK's favourite sex position
- 5 Ayyan Ali: Pakistan's top model now appears in the courtroom rather than on the catwalk
Man on naked bike ride gets ejected after becoming aroused
Caitlyn Jenner's mother Ester thought her daughter, formerly known as Bruce Jenner, had transitioned for money
Charles Kennedy 1959-2015: A gifted, compassionate politician whose career was cut short by the 'demon drink' - latest news
Charles Kennedy dead: A guy once asked the Lib Dem leader who his favourite Muppet was and his letter response was wonderful
Jaden Smith wears gender fluid dress to high school prom with Hunger Games actress
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after Brits abroad complain of 'awkward' holidays
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
Michael Gove determined to scrap the Human Rights Act – even if Scotland retains it
Threat to scrap Human Rights Act could see UK follow Nazi example, warns UN official
Why this year's general election was the most unfair in Britain's history
£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...
£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company are a world leadin...