A war of words is heating up between Paris and Ankara.
The Turkish prime minister has accused France of genocide in Algeria.
This a day after France’s lower house approved a draft law that will make it a crime to deny that the massacre of Armenians by Ottoman Turks was genocide.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: “This is a clear example of how racism, discrimination and anti-Muslim sentiment have reached new dangerous levels in France and in Europe. French President Sarkozy’s ambition is to win an election based on promoting animosity against Turks and Muslims.
“Around 15 percent of the population in Algeria was massacred by the French, starting in 1945,” he said. “That was a genocide. The Algerians were burned en masse in ovens. They were mercilessly martyred.”
Erdogan added: “If French President Sarkozy isn’t aware of this genocide, he should go and ask his father, Paul Sarkozy. His father served in the French Legion in Algeria in the 1940s. I am sure he would have lots to tell his son about the French massacres in Algeria.”
Turkey has recalled its ambassador and cancelled bilateral political, economic and military activities.
The French President has hit back at the latest comments from Ankara.
“Every country must make an effort to reexamine its past,” said Nicolas Sarkozy. “France gives lessons to no one, but it doesn’t expect to receive them. I respect the conviction of our Turkish friends, it’s a great country, a great civilisation, but they should respect us.”
Paris also denies claims by Ankara that the bill, still to be approved by the French Senate, is aimed at winning votes among France’s Armenian community for President Sarkozy in elections next year.