Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has crossed a line by comparing Berlin’s government to the Nazis and is no longer welcome in Germany, a senior ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday.
The rebuke from Volker Bouffier, vice chairman of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, reflects growing exasperation over Erdogan’s assertions that Germany and other European powers were using Nazi tactics by banning Turkish political rallies in their territories.
“Enough is enough,” said Bouffier, who is also premier of Hesse state where the financial capital Frankfurt is located. “Mr. Erdogan and his government are not welcome in our country, and that must be now be understood,” he told DLF radio.
German media have reported that Erdogan plans to visit Germany this month to rally the estimated 1.4 eligible Turkish voters living here to support a package of new presidential powers in an April 16 referendum.
Bouffier said such a visit would create security problems. “Someone who insults us in this way cannot expect that we will assemble thousands of police to protect him,” he said.
Germany’s government has said it has not received a formal request for a visit by Erdogan.
On Monday, Merkel once again called on Turkey to stop the Nazi comparisons and said Berlin reserved the right to block future appearances by Turkish officials if they did not comply with German law, which explicitly forbids malicious disparagement of the government.
Erdogan repeated his criticism of Germany and other European countries on Tuesday, saying today’s “fascist and cruel” Europe resembled the pre-World War Two era.
In Istanbul on Sunday, he said, “Merkel, now you’re applying Nazi methods. Against my brothers who live in Germany, and against my ministers and lawmakers who visit there.”
Reiner Haseloff, another member of Merkel’s CDU and premier of Saxony-Anhalt state, urged Berlin to bar such visits.
“Every statesman who wants to discuss something with us is welcome as a guest, and will be welcomed with the proper diplomatic protocol, but that does not include campaigning, and especially not by people who are discrediting us as a nation,” he told Die Welt newspaper in an article published on Tuesday.
“Those who compare us to Nazis are not welcome. That is not acceptable,” he said, adding Berlin should not rely on local and state governments to make decisions about visits by Turkish politicians as it has up to now.
Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus on Monday said Turkey was using metaphors about facism because it was worried that European countries were forgetting their history and falling into the trap of Nazism once again.
In his speech on Tuesday, Erdogan said Turkey could no longer be pressured by considerations such as a $6 billion migrant deal under which it agreed to stop illegal migrants from crossing into Greece in exchange for financial aid and accelerated EU membership talks.
EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn told the Bild newspaper in an interview published Tuesday that Turkey’s prospects for joining the EU would be “increasingly unrealistic” unless it changed course and stopped moving away from European values.
Hahn said the EU had repeatedly voiced its concerns about the “increasingly authoritarian path of President Erdogan.”
“Threats are no way to make policies. They make a reasonable dialogue impossible,” he said. (Reuters)