France should face crimes in Africa: Turkish spokesman

Macron in ‘political turmoil,’ says Justice and Development (AK) Party spokesman

France should face crimes in Africa: Turkish spokesman Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) Deputy Chairman and AK Party's Spokesman Omer Celik holds a press conference after the Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) Central Executive Board (MYK) meeting in Ankara, Turkey on February 11, 2019. ( Güven Yılmaz - Anadolu Agency )


By Sibel Ugurlu


French authorities should face the human rights violations and murders they were involved in from Cameroon to Algeria, Turkey's ruling party spokesman said Monday.

“Facing history is essential for France,” Omer Celik told reporters following a central executive committee meeting of his ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party.

“What France should judicially face, from Cameroon to Algeria, are the acts of human rights violations and killings by the French authorities.

"What is tragic is [French President Emmanuel Macron's] talks about facing history. Facing history must be a term that should be used in another meaning for France," he said.

"While the crimes committed by the French authorities are obvious, hiding behind a term like ‘facing history’ is a result of a lobby support approach of Macron, who is in political turmoil,” he said, referring to Macron's tweet about the 1915 Armenian events.

Recalling Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s call in 2005 to open the archives on both sides and let scientists conduct the necessary research, Celik said the studies were prevented by the decisions taken by Armenia’s Constitutional Court back then.

He also warned that Turkey would not just condemn the move, but it will also have effects on bilateral relations.

He said Macron, cornered by months of protests by the Yellow Vest movement, is trying to rescue himself through baseless allegations instead of producing “shrewd policies” to tackle the issue.

Last week, Macron announced April 24 as a day to commemorate the so-called Armenian genocide.

Turkey objects to the presentation of the incidents as "genocide" but describes the 1915 events as a tragedy for both sides.

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

Safe zone in northern Syria

On a safe zone in northern Syria, Celik said: "It is not possible to say that fruitful talks with U.S. President Donald Trump were disseminated to the grassroots."

He said Turkey's concerns about its security were not matters of negotiation which could be extended over time.

Noting that the Turkish Armed Forces has the capacity to realize any kind of operation for the country’s safety, he added: “The right thing here is putting an end to these places being a safe haven for the terrorists.”

The safe zone issue was first brought to the global stage when Erdogan visited the U.S. nearly six years ago in May 2013.

In a surprising move last December, Trump announced he was withdrawing all American forces from Syria. He made the decision during a phone call with Erdogan in which the two leaders agreed on the need for more effective coordination over the civil war-torn country.

Chinese policy on Uighur Turks

On the issue of Chinese authorities’ systematic assimilation policy towards Uighur Turks, Celik said Turkey respects China's integrity and security, "but holding more than 1 million Uighur Turks in concentration camps and prisons is unlawful."

Stating that the policy carried out by the country was open to assimilation in many ways, Celik noted that many opinion leaders, artists and intellectuals of East Turkestan were missing.

“If a transparent approach is adopted on this issue, it will create an opportunity to defuse tensions and allow everyone to understand what is happening,” he said.

China’s Xinjiang region is home to around 10 million Uighurs. The Turkic Muslim group, which makes up around 45 percent of Xinjiang’s population, has long accused China’s authorities of cultural, religious and economic discrimination.

China stepped up its restrictions on the region in the past two years, banning men from growing beards and women from wearing veils and introducing what many experts see as the world’s most extensive electronic surveillance program, according to The Wall Street Journal.

As many as 1 million Muslims in Xinjiang have been incarcerated in an expanding network of “political re-education” camps, according to U.S. officials and UN experts.

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