Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has called on Turks in Germany to vote against major parties in next month’s elections and called Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats enemies of Turkey.
Mr Erdogan comments, some of his harshest yet against the German Chancellor, drew a furious response from Merkel, her government and some Turkish organisations in Germany, illustrating the widening divide between the NATO allies and major trade partners
“I am calling on all my countrymen in Germany: the Christian Democrats, SDP, the Green Party are all enemies of Turkey. Support those political parties who are not enemies of Turkey,” Erdogan said after Friday prayers in Istanbul, urging ethnic Turks in Germany to “teach a lesson” to those parties.
Ties between Ankara and Berlin have been strained in the aftermath of last year’s failed coup as Turkish authorities have sacked or suspended 150,000 people and detained more than 50,000 people, including German nationals.
“We will not tolerate any kind of interference,” said Merkel in response at a campaign event in the western city of Herford, while her foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel described the remarks as “unprecedented” interference with Germany’s sovereignty.
Germans go to the polls on September 24 for elections where Merkel is running for a fourth term.
Her conservatives enjoy a comfortable lead over the Social Democrats (SPD), their current coalition partner and major rival.