Turkish government, opposition join in Sarkozy slamming

Turkish government, opposition join in Sarkozy slamming

ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News
Turkish government, opposition join in Sarkozy slamming

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. AA photo

The prime minister says French leader Sarkozy’s threat to criminalize ‘genocide’ denial is an ‘election investment’ as an opposition leader labels it ‘ill-mannered’

Turkey’s ruling and opposition parties have united in harsh reaction to French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s threat to revive a bill criminalizing any denial of Armenian genocide claims.

Speaking during his party’s parliamentary group meeting yesterday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan dismissed Sarkozy’s recent threats to criminalize any denial of Armenian genocide claims unless Ankara itself recognized the killings as such as an “election investment” for presidential polls next year.

“You should give advice first to yourself and behave yourself,” Erdoğan said in reference to France’s colonial past.

“If you fail to think big and choose to make petty calculations out of economic concern, you should know that Turkey is not an easy bite to swallow,” Erdoğan said, slamming Sarkozy’s comments, which were made in Yerevan last week.

Devlet Bahçeli, head of the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), also denounced the French president, calling his attitude “rude and ill-mannered.” However, he added that the tensions also stemmed from the Erdoğan government’s “contradictory political dialogue” with France.

Sarkozy made the controversial remarks on the eve of his interior minister’s visit to Ankara during which the two countries signed a rare anti-terror cooperation accord.

Despite the bilateral chill, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe is scheduled to visit Turkey on Oct. 26.

In further comments on foreign affairs yesterday, Erdoğan slammed the international community for having “spoiled” Israel and voiced pessimism that the creation of a Palestinian state could become possible through talks.

“How will such a spoiled country opt for the negotiating table? Each time they sit at the table they ask for more and their demands have no limits,” he said.

Meanwhile, Volkan Bozkır, head of Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Commission, said yesterday that he was disappointed by Sarkozy’s recent call for Ankara to recognize the World War I-era killing of Armenians as genocide.

Also a deputy of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Bozkır said he found it hard to understand Sarkozy’s recent remarks coming at a time when the two countries have common interests and fruitful relations.

Sarkozy’s remarks could hurt Turkish-French relations, said Bozkır in Milan where he arrived to attend an international conference.