German Chancellor Angela Merkel has asked Turkey to stop making Nazi references, calling it “completely unacceptable” and sought to reconcile differences in a bid to mend strained ties between the two allies.
Mrs. Merkel was under withering fire from Turkey in past several weeks after German authorities canceled speeches of Turkish ministers. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have been blasting Berlin for days before cheering crowd of supporters, even claiming that Nazi practices in Germany are not yet over.
Mrs. Merkel, the only European politician who regularly has been meeting with Mr. Erdogan for 12 years, asked the Turkish leader to put an end to drawing parallels between the Nazi Germany and her government.
“This is completely out of hand and why it’s almost impossible to comment on this. It cannot be justified,” CNN quoted Mrs. Merkel as saying at the German Bundestag.
Over the course of this week, Mr. Erdogan questioned German authorities for refusing to allow Turkish ministers campaign in Germany for an April referendum that is poised to vastly expand presidential powers. He criticized Berlin for violating freedom of speech and democracy and claimed that the Nazi era is not yet over.
“SS comparisons only lead to misery because it means the crimes committed by the National Socialists in Germany are rendered much more harmless than they actually were,” the German chancellor said. She added that such comparisons must stop and that they “are not good for the close ties between Germany and Turkey.”
The back-and-forth wrangling between Mr. Erdogan and Mrs. Merkel signaled a politically charged chapter in relations between the two countries. But the German chancellor, wary of the importance of Turkey as a NATO ally, sought to tamp down escalating tensions.
Mrs. Merkel said her country’s position on freedom and democracy must not push Turkey further away from the West.
“As difficult as all of this might be, our geopolitical interest cannot be that Turkey — which is, after all, a NATO partner — continues to distance itself from us,” Mrs. Merkel added. “That is why it is well worth it to stand for the German-Turkish relationships — but on the basis of our values, our perceptions and in all transparency.”
Mrs. Merkel said Turkey’s record on the rule of law and democracy is “deeply problematic” if Ankara seeks to cultivate cooperation with the European Union.
“These deep differences of opinion relate to basic questions of democracy and the rule of law. They relate to freedom of expression in Turkey. They also relate to the many journalists that have been jailed for expressing their opinion,” she stressed.
The German chancellor’s remarks came a week after Turkey arrested Die Welt reporter Deniz Yucel. Mr. Erdogan publicly called him a “terrorist” and a “German spy” (Berlin said the accusation is absurd).
In Ankara, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim argued that Germany seeks to defeat the constitutional changes that will be put to vote on April 16, describing Berlin’s attitude toward the Turkish government a “grave mistake.”
The Netherlands followed in the footsteps of Germany by denying halls and venues for Turkish ministers planning to address sizeable Turkish minority, most of whom have supported Mr. Erdogan in the past. Since Mr. Erdogan is facing a steep climb in the upcoming referendum, votes by expatriate Turks have become crucial.
In what appears to be a well-devised strategy ahead of crucial popular voting, whipping up anti-Western sentiments only feed the government narrative that Turkey needs a strongman to lead the country through troubled waters. Users on the social media, including opposition politicians, criticized Germany and the Netherlands for refusing to give platforms for Turkish government officials to campaign and warned that it could boost the Yes vote.
This article was possible thanks to your donations. Please keep supporting us here.