French decision on 1915 events ‘invalid’ for Turkey: FM

Turkey's foreign minister on Thursday dismissed a French declaration on the 1915 events during the Ottoman Empire era as invalid.

On Wednesday, French President Emmanuel Macron signed an order declaring April 24 a day to commemorate events between Turkey and Armenia.

"This decision has no validity for us at all. We will take the necessary measures on this issue," Mevlut Cavusoglu told a joint news conference alongside his Dutch counterpart Stef Blok in Amsterdam.

Cavusoglu said Ankara has already started taking some initiatives on the issue.

He said Macron's declaration flies in the face of European Court of Human Rights rulings on the issue, dismissing it as "Populism. Nothing else."

He called France making judgements on the issue tragicomic, adding that instead, it should be looking at its own history.

"Not even 25 years have passed since the Rwandan genocide. Neither we, nor they, have forgotten what France did in Algeria, Africa, and other places," he said, referring to massacres and misdeeds from French colonial history.

France occupied Algeria for 132 years, until July 5, 1962, when the country declared its independence from colonial rule, after seven years of fighting against the French invaders.

During the course of the struggle for independence, some 1.5 million Algerians were martyred, while hundreds of thousands more were injured, went missing, or were forced from their homes.

Since its independence, Algeria has repeatedly asked France to acknowledge its colonial-era crimes.

Cavusoglu said it is "unacceptable" for a country which did such things to try to pass judgement on another country.

He said even liberals are being affected by the far-right movements which have been spreading throughout Europe.

Turkey's position on the issue is that the deaths of Armenians in eastern Anatolia in 1915 took place when some sided with invading Russians and revolted against Ottoman forces. A subsequent relocation of Armenians resulted in numerous casualties.

Turkey objects to the presentation of the incidents as "genocide" but describes the 1915 events as a tragedy in which both sides suffered casualties.

Ankara has repeatedly proposed the creation of a joint commission of historians from Turkey and Armenia plus international experts to tackle the issue.

Cavusoglu also said the PKK terror group is trying to use the Netherlands as a center for drug trade, which the group is doing from northern Iraq.

"We have to work together in order to stop this flow," he said.

Blok, for his part, said he is positive about future of Turkish-Dutch relations and the two countries have "very strong" relations.

He said Netherlands is the largest foreign investor in Turkey.

Responding to a question about discrimination being faced by the Turkish community in the Netherlands, Blok said: "Discrimination is not acceptable in the Netherlands [...] Anyone who feels discriminated should go to the police, should go to a court."

After the joint press conference, Cavusoglu also attended the opening ceremony of Turkey's Consulate General in Amsterdam.

Source: Anadolu Agency