Europe scandalised by Erdogan's Nazi comments
Ankara threatens ending EU refugee deal and predicts 'religious wars' amid diplomatic crisis
17 March, 2017
Turkey is "completely detached from reality" in calling the Dutch fascists, European Council President Donald Tusk said on 15 March. His remarks come amid a row between Turkey and European nations over campaigning for a Turkish referendum.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused the Dutch government of being "Nazi remnants". He was infuriated when a minister was barred from addressing a Rotterdam rally, sparking clashes with police. Ankara suspended high-level diplomatic relations with the Netherlands on 13 March, banning the Dutch ambassador from the country and preventing diplomatic flights from landing.
Tusk's remarks to the European Parliament came on the day of the Dutch vote in an election in which the party of centre-right Prime Minister Mark Rutte won against anti-immigrant Geert Wilders. Germany and Austria have also acted to stop Turkish rallies which are seeking support for a "yes" vote in a 16 April referendum on giving President Erdogan greater powers.
Last Thursday Fran?ois Hollande and Angela Merkel condemned the behaviour of Turkish politicians ahead of the country’s upcoming constitutional referendum, saying it was “unacceptable” for Turkey to accuse Germany and other countries of “Nazi practices” for banning rallies in support of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker also said he was "scandalised" by the Turkish government's Nazi comments. "I will never accept this comparison between the Nazis and the (modern-day) governments," Juncker said. "If you are establishing a comparison with that period, this is totally unacceptable. The one who is doing this is taking distance from Europe and not trying to enter Europe," he said. Erdogan later said in a televised speech the EU could "forget about" the migrant deal, first struck in 2013 in which Turkey agreed to take back migrants who travelled illegally to the EU in return for the promise of visa-free travel. He accused the EU of not sticking with a promise to grant Turkish nationals the right to travel visa-free in Europe and went on to accuse Europe of starting a “clash” between Christianity and Islam after a ruling allowed employers to ban headscarves as part of wider restrictions on religious and political symbols.
"Shame on the EU. Down with your European principles, values and justice... They started a clash between the cross and the crescent, there is no other explanation," he said at a rally in the northwestern province of Sakarya. Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also warned that Turkey will be evaluating the refugee deal. He even threatened that Europe could again see religious wars, saying on 16 March in a campaign rally that the continent's unity was breaking down.
"You are leading Europe towards a cliff," he said, addressing his critics in Europe at a rally in Antalya. "Religious wars will soon begin in Europe... If things continue as they are, then it will be so," the state-run Anadolu news agency quoted Cavusoglu as saying. However, his colleague, Turkey's Minister for EU Affairs Omer Celik, tried to soften the tone of the conflict. Dutch investment in Turkey is not threatened by the diplomatic row between the two countries, he told the news agency. Despite the furor, Celik said Ankara was telling businesses worldwide that Turkey was safe for investment.