Turkey’s president has accused Germany of “fascist actions” in a growing row between the two countries. Recep Tayyip Erdogan hit out after Berlin cancelled rallies designed to woo Turkish voters in Germany ahead of a key referendum.
“I thought Nazism had ended in Germany. Turns out that it’s still going on, plain and visible.”
Erdogan’s remarks have fanned anger across the European Union. Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern has called for an EU-wide ban on campaign appearances by Turkish politicians to avoid member countries coming under pressure from Ankara.
Kern also said talks over Turkey joining the EU should be abandoned.
Turkey’s Economy minister has still gone ahead with an albeit reduced meeting in Cologne, campaigning among 1.4m Turks who live in Germany and can vote in Erdogan’s April referendum which will grant the president more powers.
But across Europe there is mounting unease over the president’s continuing crackdown following last year’s failed coup.
The row has further soured relations between Berlin and Ankara amid mounting public outrage in Germany over the arrest in Turkey of a Turkish-German journalist. The government has accused the reporter of being a member of the outlawed Kurdish militant group PKK.
Erdogan has called the journalist – who works for well-established German newspaper Die Welt – a “German agent” and accused Germany of “aiding and harbouring terror”. German officials said such allegations were absurd.