Istanbul [Turkey]: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday lashed out at Germany following Turkish ministers being barred from holding public rallies in two German cities ahead of the April 16 referendum in Turkey that would expand the powers of the President.
According to Anadolu news agency, speaking at a meeting of the Women and Democracy Foundation (KADEM) in Istanbul, Erdogan accused Germany of repeating past Nazi habits.
“They do not let our friends speak in Germany. Let them do it. Do you think that barring a Turkish minister from pronouncing a speech [in Germany] will make the votes ‘No’ instead of ‘Yes’?” he said.
“Germany! You have nothing to do with democracy. Your recent practices are no different than the Nazi ones of the past,” he added.
On Thursday, the municipality of Gaggenau in southwest Germany revoked its permission for Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag’s meeting, citing concerns about overcrowding. This prompted Bozdag to cancel his planned visit to Germany altogether.
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry also summoned the German Ambassador, Martin Erdmann, over the cancellation the meeting.
Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci’s planned address on Sunday to a Turkish community in the western city of Cologne was also cancelled by local authorities over security concerns.
Ties between Ankara and Berlin have been strained in recent months. Turkish leaders have criticized their German counterparts for turning a blind eye to terrorist organizations such as the PKK and FETO, which they say use Germany for their activities targeting Turkey.
Meanwhile, German media and politicians sharply criticized Turkey for the pre-trial detention of Die Welt’s Istanbul correspondent Deniz Yucel on charges of terror propaganda.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is also facing calls to ban Erdogan, from entering Germany as Deniz Yucel continues to be held in an Istanbul prison.
Erdogan, who campaigned in Germany in 2011 and 2014, was rumoured to be planning a political rally to secure the symbolically important diaspora vote before April’s referendum.
Among Germany’s 3 million Turkish community, nearly 1.5 million of them are eligible to vote. They will cast their votes at Turkish consulates in Germany between March 27 and April 9. (ANI)