Erdogan accuses Berlin of fascist actions after rally ban

ISTANBUL • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused Germany of "fascist actions" reminiscent of Nazi times in a growing row over the cancellation of political rallies aimed at drumming up support for him among 1.5 million Turkish citizens in Germany.

Germany's chancellery yesterday hit out against the allegation, calling the comparison with Nazis "absolutely unacceptable".

"There is absolutely no reason to allow ourselves to be reproached over this," Mr Peter Altmaier, chief of staff at the chancellery, told public broadcaster ARD.

Justice Minister Heiko Maas told ARD that Mr Erdogan's comments were "absurd, disgraceful and outlandish".

But, he cautioned against banning Mr Erdogan from visiting Germany or breaking off diplomatic ties, saying that such moves would push Ankara "straight into the arms of (Russian President Vladmir) Putin, which no one wants".

The deputy leader of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union party, Ms Julia Klockner, said the Turkish President was "reacting like a wilful child that cannot have his way".

The German authorities withdrew permission last week for two rallies by Turkish citizens in German cities at which Turkish ministers were to urge a "yes" vote in a referendum next month on granting Mr Erdogan sweeping new presidential powers.

Berlin says the rallies were cancelled on security grounds.

However, Turkish Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci spoke at large events in Leverkusen and Cologne on Sunday while protesters stood outside.

The row has further soured relations amid mounting outrage in Germany over the arrest in Turkey of a Turkish-German journalist.

A defiant Mr Erdogan said that he could travel to Germany himself to rally support for the constitutional changes to grant him greater power.

"If I want to come to Germany, I will, and if you don't let me in through your doors, if you don't let me speak, then I will make the world rise to its feet," he said.

The remarks by Mr Erdogan could win support among those who see Turkey threatened by militant attacks and abandoned by putative allies, but they could damage economic ties at a time when Turkey faces rising unemployment and inflation.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 07, 2017, with the headline 'Erdogan accuses Berlin of fascist actions after rally ban'. Print Edition | Subscribe