Erdogan calls French genocide bill 'racist'

Turkish prime minister says his government will implement "step by step" measures against Paris.

By REUTERS
January 24, 2012 13:12
1 minute read.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Umit Bektas)

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday slammed as "discriminatory and racist" a French parliament bill making it illegal to deny the mass killing of Armenian by Ottoman Turks nearly a century a century ago was genocide.

Erdogan said Turkey would implement measures against fellow NATO member France "step by step."

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Turkey warns France on Armenian genocide vote


Earlier Tuesday, France urged Ankara not to overreact to the bill.

Speaking on Canal+ television Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, who was personally against the move, said the new law was "ill-timed", but called on Ankara to remain calm.

Lawmakers in France's upper house (Senate) voted in favor of the draft law outlawing genocide denial on Monday after almost six hours of debate. The lower house had backed it in December, prompting Ankara to cancel all economic, political and military meetings with Paris and recall its ambassador for consultations.

"We need good relations with it and we need to get through this excessive phase," Juppe said. "We have very important economic and trade ties. I hope the reality of the situation will not be usurped by emotions."

The bill now goes to President Nicolas Sarkozy to be ratified.

Turkey's ambassador in Paris, Tahsin Burcuoglu, said the vote would lead to a "total rupture" of relations between the two countries and Ankara could seek to downgrade its diplomatic presence in the French capital.

Armenia, backed by many historians and parliaments, says about 1.5 million Christian Armenians were killed in what is now eastern Turkey during World War One in a deliberate policy of genocide ordered by the Ottoman government.

The Ottoman empire was dissolved after the end of the war, but successive Turkish governments and the vast majority of Turks feel the charge of genocide is a direct insult to their nation. Ankara argues there was heavy loss of life on both sides during fighting in the area.


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