ATHENS (Reuters)–Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos called on his European Union counterparts on Friday to take a firm position on what he described as "Kurdish genocide" carried out by Turkey.
"I call on my counterparts to take a position on the Kurdish genocide and the brutal violation of their human rights," Pangalos told reporters after talks with visiting French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine.
He said western European nations were closing their eyes to the Kurdish problem in the same way the world turned a blind eye to the Nazi Jewish genocide.
"I fear that in some years we will find ourselves bearing a similar weight of shame and responsibility if we don’t take a position now.
"Kurdish immigration is a major political problem stemming from the armed operations in Turkey and Iraq and it has all the elemen’s of a genocide," Pangalos said.
About 2,000 Kurds–mostly from Turkey and Iraq have landed on Italian shores over the past month–causing concern in Europe about a greater wave of Kurdish migran’s.
Vedrine said Turkey should apply tighter controls on the movement of Kurds from its soil–adding that the problem should be faced by EU nations in accordance with the Schengen accord on EU border and immigration policy.
"One country can’t deal with this problem alone," he said.
Vedrine visited Ankara on Thursday and discussed the issue with Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem.
Turkey on Saturday branded Pangalos a "descendant of Greek fascism" and rejected as racist his accusation that Ankara was conducting genocide against its Kurdish citizens.
"Today’s descendants of Greek fascism and racism is again dragging (the) country into adventure," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a written response to remarks by Pangalos.
"Mr. Pangalos–with his racist provocations–is dynamiting Europe’s well-being and the foundations of peace," the statement said.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry also responded vehemently to a suggestion by the Greek minister that European nations were closing their eyes to the Kurdish problem in the same way the world turned a blind eye to the Nazi Jewish genocide.
"Greek fascists under the leadership of those resembling Pangalos sent thousands of Greek Jews to the death camps–surrendering them to the German occupiers with their own hands," the statement said.
Turkey says the immigran’s are mostly economic refugees preyed on by smugglers who charge thousands of dollars to cross them to Europe. It says that the migration is not due to any persecution of its Kurds.
Many of the refugees are fleeing a 13-year conflict between Turkish troops and guerrillas fighting for self-rule in the mainly Kurdish southeast of Turkey.