War of words between Berlin and Ankara worsens


German Chancellor Angela Merkel has hit back at Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after he once again referred to Germany’s “Nazi” tactics over rallies in support of the upcoming referendum in Turkey, marking a new low in diplomatic relations between the two countries.


Merkel, Erdogan


Turkey is holding a referendum, April 16, on controversial changes to the country’s constitution that could hand Erdogan massive executive presidential powers and abolish the role of prime minister. Erdogan and his government have promoted a series off rallies in Germany — as well as the Netherlands — to support his cause among the Turkish population abroad. 1.4 million Turks in Germany are eligible to vote.


However, German authorities have canceled a number of rallies, fearing violence and a rise in anti-migrant sentiment. Erdogan has accused Germany of employing fascist methods.


“You are right now employing Nazi measures. When we call them Nazis they (Europe) get uncomfortable. They rally together in solidarity. Especially Merkel,” he said in a televised speech, March 19.


Merkel hit back saying such language must stop, “no ifs, no buts,” and that her government would “take all necessary measures, including reviewing the permissions” for rallies for which permission had already been granted. 


Meanwhile, a senior member of her own Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party and Minister President of the German state of Hesse, Volker Bouffier, has said Erdogan should be barred from entering Germany, which should distance itself from Erdogan’s attempts to conduct a political campaign on German soil, which Germany itself was gearing up for its own federal elecions later this year.


“Mr. Erdogan is not welcome. If he does come, in my view, he will not be allowed to appear alongside us, as it poses a threat to national security,” he said.


Erdogan’s comments have also brought a backlash from the Jewish community in Germany, where the head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Josef Schuster, said his comments were an affront to the victims of the Third Reich.


​”The comparisons between today’s Federal Republic of Germany and National Socialism, which we have heard in recent days, are not only insulting and absolutely false — they also relativize the Nazis’ rule of terror. The comparison is monstrous and denigrates the suffering of the victims of the Shoah,” Schuster said.


The row comes on the back of previous outburst by Erdogan, early March, when he accused the German authorities of using “Nazi tactics” to stop rallies in tended to support Erdogan’s proposals.


“It cannot be justified. Nazi comparisons only lead to misery. This needs to stop,” Merkel said in a speech to the Bundestag, March 9.