The Turkish Prime Minister has hit out at France, as a crisis looms between the two countries. Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged the French to look at their own colonial past in Africa, instead of attacking Ankara. He was speaking on the eve of a controversial parliamentary vote in Paris that would make it a crime to deny that the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks was genocide.
Turkey, which hopes to join the European Union, maintains there was no systematic genocide of Armenians during World War One. Recognition of genocide allegations is not a condition of EU membership and the President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso has said new criteria should not be imposed.
But tomorrow’s French vote has already provoked protests in Turkey. And Europe’s enlargement commissioner has warned that approval of the bill could do serious harm to EU-Turkey relations. The Turkish foreign ministry has warned that economic and political ties with France could be damaged if the bill is passed. Ankara strongly rejects claims that 1.5 million Armenians perished at the hands of Ottoman Turks between 1915 and 1921 in a genocide, saying large numbers of Armenians and Turks died in partisan conflict raging at the time.