Family dragged into bill debate
ISTANBUL / ANKARA
Members of Ankara Turkish National Students Association hold a protest in front of France embassy in Paris against recent French law, which received low participation. Pal Sarkozy (inset) denies ever having been to Algeria with the legion. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZFrench President Nicolas Sarkozy ought “to learn historical facts from his own ancestors” when interfering in the debates about the supposed genocides of others, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Dec. 23 in Istanbul.
“Sarkozy should ask about France’s genocide in Algeria in 1945 to his father, Paul Sarkozy, who was a legionnaire in the French army in that time; I have no doubt that his father has some stories to tell to his son,” Erdoğan said during the opening of a conference. Erdoğan also said a forefather of Sarkozy was a refugee who was able to migrate from Spain to Thessaloniki in 1526 as the Ottoman Empire opened its borders to save Jews from the Inquisition. “If Sarkozy looks to his own family history, he will find nothing but the help of Turks. Benedict Mallah, Sarkozy’s grandfather, was saved by Turks and he went to France in 1904 when Turkey lost Thessaloniki to the Greeks,” Erdoğan said.
Never been to Algeria: Sarkozy’s father
Nicolas Sarkozy’s father Pal Sarkozy replied that he had never been to Algeria. “I have not passed beyond Marseille. And I stayed at the legion for four months,” he told France’s BFMTV channel. “Just buy my book, ‘So much life,’ by Pal Sarkozy. All the documents are there -- [the matter] is totally ridiculous.” France’s lower house of Parliament passed a bill Dec. 22 criminalizing denials of the 1915 events as genocide, touching off profound Turkish anger. Erdoğan said the French government had no courage to vote against the bill as the motion passed with only 55 votes even though the chamber has 557 members. “Sarkozy is trying to win the elections in France with racism against Turks and Muslims. My words are not against French society but that government is racist. They are spineless, they have no courage,” Erdoğan said.
France’s stance similar to that of dictatorships: FM
The prime minister also read a letter from Süleyman the Magnificent to French King François I, dismissing the monarch’s requests for help. Erdoğan said he gave the letter as a gift to Sarkozy when he came to Istanbul, prompting applause from his audience.
After the bill passed, Turkey announced the cancelation of all bilateral military and economic cooperation and the suspension of all bilateral political consultations with France. In Ankara Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu compared France’s stance to that of “the dictatorships” of the Middle East. “Yesterday’s bill took Europe back to the Middle Ages. Just as the Gadhafi regime, the bin Ali regime and the al-Assad regime dictated their peoples what to think and what not to think, French Parliament and leaders behind it dictated Europeans what not to debate,” Davutoğlu told a gathering of Turkish ambassadors Dec. 23. French Parliament stepped over all the values Europe had championed and it risked the future of European democracy in return for political gain, he said. The minister called on French intellectuals to protect their values. “If Europeans do not look after their own values, we will do it,” he said. Ankara would raise its voice against the bill “all around the world,” Davutoğlu said.
The Turkish president expressed hope Dec. 23 the resolution process in France would not continue, Anatolia news agency reported. President Abdullah Gül said he hoped France would not proceed with the legislative process. “Nobody can express his or her sincere views after this resolution is adopted in France, which has been publicly known as a country where pluralism and everything was discussed freely,” Gül told reporters in Istanbul. Gül also said the voting in France was an insult to Turkish people. France was one of the three members of the Minsk Group set up to find a solution to the Azerbaijani-Armenian dispute and to end instability in the Caucasus. “France should immediately withdraw from mediation in case the resolution is enacted,” Gül said. “The current French president has prejudices against Turkey.” Meanwhile, speaking in France, the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said Dec. 23 they would give full support to the measures taken by the government against France.