The Turkish ambassador to France, Tahsin Burcuoglu, reportedly returned to Paris at the weekend more than two weeks after being recalled to Ankara in protest against a French bill criminalizing the denial of the Armenian genocide.
“The ambassador has finished the consultations for which he was recalled and returned to France on Saturday,” Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Selcuk Unal told the AFP news agency on Sunday.
“Hurriyet Daily News” reported last week that Burcuoglu will be sent back to Paris to “coordinate” Turkish efforts to prevent the genocide bill’s passage by the French Senate.
The Senate is expected to debate and vote on the measure, strongly condemned by Turkey, later this month. The French government and the opposition Socialist Party, which holds a majority of seats in the chamber, have signaled support for its passage.
The Turkish ambassador was recalled for consultations immediately after the bill was approved by the lower house of France’s parliament, the National Assembly, on December 22. Ankara reacted furiously to that vote, banning French military aircraft and warships from landing and docking in Turkey and freezing political and economic meetings between the two governments.
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan slammed the bill as “politics based on racism, discrimination and xenophobia” and accused French President Nicolas Sarkozy of pandering to France’s influential Armenian community. He also charged that France itself committed genocide in Algeria, its former colony, after World War II.
Erdogan’s references to colonial-era killings in Algeria prompted criticism from Algerian Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia. He said on Saturday that “nobody has the right to make the blood of Algerians their business.”
Ouyahia noted that Turkey was a member of NATO during the independence war in Algeria and as such provided material support to France. “We say to our [Turkish] friends: Stop making capital out of Algeria’s colonization,” AFP quoted him as saying.
Bouguerra Soltani, the leader of an Algerian Islamist party, denounced Ouyahia's comments as “a service rendered to France.” Soltani said Erdogan asked nothing of Algeria. “He just told France ‘You say that Turkey exterminated the Armenians in 1915, I am reminding you that you exterminated the Algerians,’” he told journalists.