Making European nationalists uncomfortable is good politics for him.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan believes that Turks in Europe are facing terrible discrimination. His proposed solution: Make as many Turkish babies there as possible.
Speaking at a rally in the Turkish city of Eskisehir on Friday, Erdoğan told his compatriots living in Europe that they should view success — and the creation of big families — as the best way to combat the swell in anti-Muslim and anti-Turkish sentiment across the continent.
“Go live in better neighborhoods. Drive the best cars. Live in the best houses. Make not three, but five children. Because you are the future of Europe. That will be the best response to the injustices against you,” he said.
Anti-immigrant nationalists shudder at the idea of a swiftly growing and more powerful Turkish — and Muslim — population in Europe. And that’s exactly why Erdoğan encouraged it.
The Turkish-European relationship is in a state of chaos these days, and Erdoğan has found it politically advantageous to throw fuel on the fire. He’s currently touring Turkey in a bid to whip up support for a referendum on a constitutional amendment that would endow the presidency — and therefore him — with far more power. It’s a move his political opponents and many analysts see as a bald attempt at formalizing authoritarian rule in Turkey.
But playing up anti-Turkish sentiment and attacking Europe is proving to be an effective way of stirring up nationalist sentiments at home, which he hopes will translate into support for his referendum. And indeed, Erdoğan’s main opposition, the Republican People’s Party, has backed his recent denunciations of Europe.