Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan attacked the French parliament Tuesday for passing a discriminatory and racist bill which makes it illegal to deny that the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks nearly a century ago was genocide.
However,Erdogan said there was still hope that NATO ally France would correct its mistake and that any retaliatory measures would be held back,depending on French actions. The French Senate approved the draft law Monday,which the lower house also backed in December,prompting a furious response from Ankara.
We will not allow anyone to gain political benefit at the expense of Turkey, Erdogan said. The bill now goes to President Nicolas Sarkozy to be ratified. He is expected to ratify the bill before parliament is suspended in February ahead of presidential elections. Turkey accuses Sarkozy of trying to win the votes of 5,00,000 ethnic Armenians in France in the presidential vote. As Erdogan spoke,a couple of hundred protesters gathered outside the French embassy in Ankara and consulate in Istanbul. Many Turks see the bill as an insult to their nation and an infringement on free speech.
Erdogan said the issue of future official visits to France would be thrown into uncertainty if the bill is passed. French firms stand to lose defence contracts and other projects. Turkey could also seek to trumpet allegations that French actions in Algeria in the 1950s and 1960s were tantamount to a genocide.