Turkey tells France to confront colonial past first

Turkey said France should confront its colonial past before giving lessons to others on how to face history, in an angry response today to a call by President Nicolas Sarkozy for Ankara to recognize the 1915 massacre of Armenians as genocide.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu. AA Photo.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu. AA Photo.

Sarkozy, in Armenia on Thursday, challenged Turkey — which is seeking membership of the European Union — to face up to its past and threatened to pass a law in France that would make denying the genocide a crime.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu told a news conference: “Those who will not be able to face their own history for having carried out colonialism for centuries, for treating foreigners as second-class people, do not have the right to teach Turkey a history lesson or call for Turkey to face its history.”

Davutoğlu said Turkey and Armenia were working together on ways to normalise ties and Sarkozy’s comments would have a negative impact on reconciliation efforts.

Armenia and Turkey, with the endorsement of the United States, the European Union and Russia, had agreed in 2009 to establish diplomatic ties and open their common border within two months of parliamentary approval.

Sarkozy’s remarks has fueled a response from Turkey’s European Affairs Minister Egemen Bağış as well, who stated earlier today that the French president should abandon “the role of historian and put his mind to getting his country out of the economic gulf in which it finds itself.”

Friday, October 7, 2011
ANKARA – Reuters