Erdogan: German ‘Nazis’ also back ‘terrorists’
The Turkish president has kept up his name-calling against Germany and the Netherlands despite EU and US appeals.
He told the A-Haber broadcaster on Monday (13 March) that Germany had declined to help Turkey 4,500 times in its requests for action against Kurdish separatists.
"Mrs Merkel, you are supporting terrorists,” he said, referring to German chancellor Angela Merkel.
Referring to the Austrian, Danish, Dutch, and German bans on Turkish ministers attending pro-Erdogan rallies in Turkish expat communities, he added: “Nazism, we can call this Neo-nazism. A new Nazism tendency," he said.
Turkey’s EU affairs minister, Omer Celik, the same day said his country should once again let Syrian refugees go to Europe via Greece.
"Turkey should re-evaluate the issue of land crossings”, he told the Andalou news agency.
Turkey’s deputy prime minister, Numan Kurtulmus, also said that the Dutch ambassador to Ankara, who was away from his post, would not be allowed back into the country.
"Until the Netherlands compensates for what it has done, high-level relations and planned meetings at a ministerial and higher level have been suspended," he added.
The Turkish rallies are designed to whip up support for changing the constitution in a referendum on 16 April to give Erdogan absolutist power.
His mass purges of alleged sympathisers with last year’s failed coup and of Kurdish separatists have the same end in mind, according to an EU intelligence assessment.
Some experts, such as Soner Cagaptay, a scholar of Turkish affairs at The Washington Institute, a think tank in the US, believe that EU leaders are playing into his hands.
"By blocking [the rallies], they may have given Erdogan a lifeline to eke out a victory in the referendum," Cagaptay told the AFP news agency on Monday.
But Merkel on Monday refused to back down and said the Netherlands was right to stand in Erdogan’s way.
She said that Erdogan’s Nazi talk “banalises” the “suffering” caused in World War II.
“These comparisons are completely misguided ... particularly in the Netherlands that endured so much agony through the National Socialists [Nazis]. That's why the Netherlands can count on my complete support and solidarity in this,” she said.
Her spokesman added that Erdogan's accusations on terrorism were "absurd" and amounted to a "competition of provocations".
Turkey has already threatened to scrap the EU deal on halting Syrian refugees several times.
According to an investigative report in Die Welt, a German newspaper, out on Monday Merkel, Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte, and the then Turkish prime minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, also struck a secret deal on refugees alongside the EU pact.
Die Welt said they agreed at a meeting on 6 March last year that Europe would take in between 150,000 and 200,000 refugees each year from Turkey and that they did not inform their EU colleagues about the accord.
Meanwhile, Erdogan’s name-calling has continued to escalate despite EU, Nato, and US appeals for calm.
“They're both strong partners and Nato allies. We'd just ask that they not escalate the situation any further and work together to resolve it,” a US state department official told the AFP agency on Monday.
EU-Germany relations had already soured over its arrest of a German journalist last month.
EU-Turkey accession talks have also stalled once again in a process which few diplomats on either side believe will ever lead to Turkey's membership.
The EU rallies dispute comes amid Turkey's efforts to forge a new alliance with Russia, with Erdogan due to meet Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Friday.