Six months ago, it was virtually assured that as part of his daily out at the West, Philippines’ president Duterte would accuse then-president Obama of being a “son of a bitch (or whore).” Now, a similar dynamic is playing out between Turkish president Erdogan and Angela Merkel, and/or the German (and Dutch) people, whom he now accuses on an almost daily basis of being Nazis, as a result of the escalating diplomatic spat between Turkey and Europe. And while some have grown accustomed to Erdogan’s daily verbal diarrhea, today the Turkish president took it to the next level: while on Sunday Erdogan once again compared Europe with the Nazis, and accused Angela Merkel of engaging “Nazi practices”, he escalated dramatically when he said that Europeans “would revive gas chambers” if they weren’t ashamed.”
Speaking at yet another demonstration in Istanbul on Sunday, where he rallied support for a ‘Yes’ vote in Turkey’s upcoming constitutional referendum, Erdogan said Europe’s “masquerade ball” is over: saying the “struggle” against his country has reached a new level, Erdogan slammed European nations, particularly Germany and the Netherlands, for their “Nazi regulations” as they revealed “the hatred they have accumulated for years against our country, our nation or even against all Muslims on TV screens and newspaper headlines every day.”
Erdogan then stunned listeners when he compared treatment of Turks to Jews during the Second World War, when he said “if [Europeans] weren’t ashamed, they would revive the gas chambers,” he said quoted by the Hurriyet Daily News.
Predictably, the Turkish president then turned his sights on Angela Merkel. “When we call them Nazis they [European politicians] get uncomfortable. They rally together in solidarity. Especially Merkel,” Erdogan said as cited by AFP. “Merkel. She backs [the Netherlands] too. You too are practicing Nazi practices. To whom? To my Turkish brothers and sisters in Germany,” the Turkish leader also said as quoted by the AP. Erdogan said that the current policy of a number of European states is based on fear of Turkey’s power.
“[The European states] do not have the urge to hide their intentions and cannot hide the discomfort they feel from Turkey, which is growing stronger,” Erdogan said, as cited by Reuters.
Erdogan’s comments come as Turkey’s Foreign Ministry summoned the German ambassador to express Ankara’s anger over a Kurdish rally held in Frankfurt on Saturday. The Turkish president’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin also called Germany’s actions “a worst example of double standards.” Quoted by Deutsche Welle, Kalin said that “the German ambassador was invited, summoned, to the Foreign Ministry and this [rally] was condemned in the strongest way.” The spokesperson added that the “scandalous” event in Frankfurt shows that European countries are in fact actively campaigning against Turkey’s constitutional reform, which of course is merely a pretext to give Erdogan near-supreme executive and legislative power.
Scheduled for April 16, the plebiscite proposes amendments to the constitution that will make Erdogan the sole executive head of state, with the authority to choose his own cabinet ministers, enact laws, call elections, and declare states of emergency. Turkish officials have been seeking meetings with Turks living in Europe ahead of the referendum hoping to get the support of the strong diaspora — in Germany alone, there are 1.5 million people with Turkish citizenship. But these plans did not go down well with the European authorities.
“It is unacceptable to see the symbols and slogans of the [outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party] PKK [at a rally in Frankfurt] while Turkish ministers and politicians are barred from meeting with their fellow citizens,” Kalin told in an interview to CNN Turk. Around 30,000 Kurdish supporters took to the streets in Frankfurt on Saturday to denounce the Turkish president and the upcoming referendum which seeks to expand his presidential powers.
Kalin wasn’t finished, and in the day’s final assault on Germany, Erdogan’s spokesman said Turkey accused Germany of backing last summer’s Turkish “coup” plotters.Kalin responds to remarks by Bruno Kahl, head of Germany’s federal intelligence agency, who said Turkey failed to convince Gulen was responsible for coup attempt, in Der Spiegel interview published Saturday. According to Kalin, “Kahl’s comments were proof of Germany’s support to Gulen network.”
“Why are they protecting them? Because these are handy instruments that can be used against Turkey,” Kalin asked and answered.
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