ISTANBUL - Tensions between Germany and Turkery are on the rise again, with the Turkish president accusing the German chancellor of using "Nazi" measures. The accusation follows a pro Kurdish rally in Germany Saturday that turned into a rally against the Turkish President.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, campaigning in a referendum to extend his presidential powers again, turned his fire on the German chancellor Angela Merkel. In a televised speech Sunday, Erdogan used Germany’s Nazi past against Merkel
"When we call them fascists, Nazis they in Europe get uncomfortable. They rally together in solidarity. Especially Merkel," Erdogan said adding, “But you are right now employing Nazi measures,”
Erdogan was infuriated after two of his ministers earlier this month were prevented from addressing meetings in Germany for the Turkish diaspora, in support of a yes vote in April’s referendum. The meetings were cancelled by local authorities because of security concerns. But on Saturday tens of thousands of Kurds were allowed to attend a gathering in the German City of Frankfurt. The meeting ostensibly to mark Newroz, the Kurdish new year, turned into a rally against Erdogan and called for a "No" vote in the referendum.
Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusolgu in a statement accused Berlin of double standards, hypocrisy and supporting the" No" vote. Sunday, the German ambassador was summoned to the foreign ministry to receive an official condemnation.
Adding to Ankara’s anger, many Kurds attending the Frankfurt rally carried pictures of the imprisoned leaderof the PKK Abdullah Ocalan. The PKK is fighting the Turkish State and is designated internationally as a terrorist organization..
Political columnist Semih Idiz of Al Monitor website says the Europe is becoming increasingly embroiled in Turkish politics.
"The vote in Europe is significant , there is nearly 5 million people across Europe who are Turkish. In Germany 1.4 million who are eligible to vote. So this a reflection of domestic politics overflowing into the foreign domain and creating a big mess," said Idiz.
Observers say the importance of the diaspora vote which traditionally gives strong support to Erdogan is viewed as increasingly key given that opinion polls indicate the result is too close to call. Tensions with Berlin could ratcheted up further with an Erdogan spokesman saying Turkey is considering sending another minister to Germany to speak at a rally ahead of the April referendum.