President Erdogan vows to ‘make the world rise up’ after Berlin blocks his referendum rallies in Germany where he hopes to gain support of 1.5 million Turks
- Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Germany of ‘Nazi practices’
- Four local authorities cancelled rallies by Turkish ministers ahead of referendum
- Chancellor Angela Merkel rejected Erdogan’s claims as ‘absurd and out of place’
- Merkel has also sought to draw a line under the dispute, to let ‘cool heads prevail’
PUBLISHED: 13:37 EDT, 6 March 2017 | UPDATED: 17:58 EDT, 6 March 2017
Chancellor Angela Merkel has sought to calm an escalating row with Turkey, a day after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan labelled a German ban on rallies by his ministers ‘Nazi practices’.
But yet another event cancellation – of a speech Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu had planned to give Tuesday in Hamburg, on fire safety grounds – only threatened to reignite the dispute.
Merkel’s office, while firmly rejecting Erdogan’s Nazi jibe as ‘absurd and out of place,’ sought to draw a line under the spat that is further fraying ties between the two countries.
Speaking in Istanbul, the Turkish President, 63, had fanned the flames with a stinging verbal attack.
He said: ‘In Germany they are not allowing our friends to speak. Let them do so. Do you think that by not allowing them to speak the votes in Germany will come out ‘no’ instead of ‘yes?’
‘Germany, you don’t have anything to do with democracy. These current practices of yours are no different than the Nazi practices of the past.’
Erdogan also told the rally in Istanbul: ‘If I want to, I will come to Germany. If you don’t let me in or if you don’t let me speak, I will make the whole world rise up.’
But Merkel‘s spokesman Steffen Seibert said: ‘To our Turkish partners, let us talk openly and critically, but let us remember the special meaning of our close relationship and let cool heads prevail.
Sharply rejecting Erdogan’s comments, he added: ‘Nazi comparisons are always absurd and out of place, because they lead only to one thing – the trivialising of the crimes against humanity committed by the Nazis.’
The row erupted late last week after three local German authorities banned Turkish ministers’ scheduled appearances ahead of an April referendum on a plan to scrap the prime minister post in Turkey, thereby boosting Erdogan’s powers.
The German authorities cited capacity and security problems in hosting the events, which they said were likely to attract large crowds.
Merkel has said her government did not have a hand in the decisions, which fell under the jurisdiction of local officials.
But Ankara responded with fury to the cancellations, accusing Berlin of working against the referendum.
Erdogan’s Nazi comments came days after a local authority prevented a Turkish minister from addressing a rally.
Meanwhile, at an election campaign event in Amsterdam, Dutch right-wing populist Geert Wilders also resorted to extreme-right comparisons, calling Erdogan an ‘Islamo-fascist leader’.