Turkey accused France of genocidal practices during its colonial occupation of Algeria on Friday after France’s lower house of parliament passed a bill making denial of the Armenian genocide a crime punishable by a 45,000-euro fine and a year in jail.
The bill refers to the deaths of more than 1 million Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1917.
"France massacred about 15 percent of the Algerian population starting from 1945. That is genocide," Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said.
"They were mercilessly martyred."
The bill, which now goes to the French upper house, has set France on a collision course with Turkey. Ankara had threatened “grave consequences,” including diplomatic and economic sanctions, if the bill was passed.
Turkey has already responded by recalling its ambassador Tahsin Burcuoglu from France.
In a letter to President Nicolas Sarkozy last week, Erdogan said the proposed law is hostile to Turkey, the Turkish nation and the Turkish community living in France.
Ankara dismisses the genocide allegations, saying that many Muslim Turks and Kurds were also put to death as Russian troops invaded, often aided by Armenian militias.
Turkey has suggested that the law is an attempt to play up to France’s 500,000 ethnic Armenians and secure their votes in the upcoming presidential election.
Turkey and Armenia have had no diplomatic relations since the latter became independent following the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Turkey closed its border with Armenia in a show of support for Azerbaijan following a bloody conflict over Nagorny Karabakh, in which some 35,000 died on both sides.