German president tells Turkey: Don't cut ties with partners

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ramped up his anti-European rhetoric on Wednesday, warning that the safety of Western citizens could be in peril if European nations persist in what he described as arrogant conduct.

On Tuesday, Erdogan repeated his criticism of Germany and other European countries, saying today's "fascist and cruel" Europe resembled the pre-World War Two era. "We, as Turkey, call on Europe to respect human rights and democracy", he said.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan makes a speech during a meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, March 19, 2017. Erdogan criticized Germany Wednesday for allowing a weekend rally of Kurds, some of whom expressed support for a jailed rebel leader in Turkey.

German media had reported that Erdogan planned to visit Germany this month to rally the estimated 1.4 eligible Turkish voters living in the country to support his constitutional reform plans. "We don't want to be compared to Nazis", he said.

German local officials have canceled several campaign rallies by Turkish ministers on its territory in recent weeks, citing security concerns, prompting Erdogan to accuse Berlin of using "Nazi" tactics, a charge that has incensed Merkel's government.

Turkey's candidacy for membership in the European Union, meanwhile, has virtually collapsed.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally Turkey has repeatedly accused Germany of using Nazi tactics to ban ministerial appearances and has caused anger in Germany by holding German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yucel.

"Enough is enough", said Bouffier, who is also premier of Hesse state where the financial capital Frankfurt is located.

Erdogan claimed that Germany acted with double standards by saying that the German judiciary would deal with the files, and then asking Turkey to interfere with its own judiciary to secure the release of the correspondent of Germany's Die Welt newspaper.

Berlin has said it has not received a formal request for a visit by Erdogan.

In an interview with Der Spiegel published on Saturday, Bruno Kahl said Ankara had repeatedly tried to convince Berlin that Gulen was behind the coup "but they have not succeeded".

EU Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans told reporters after a meeting with Gabriel that EU officials were united in rejecting the Nazi comparisons.

While Chancellor Angela Merkel's federal government has distanced itself from the decisions of local authorities, Turkish politicians have accused the government of carrying out a covert and systematic campaign to obstruct their rallies, and favoring the No campaign.

  • Jon Douglas