March 23, 2017

Turkey is worth the effort - Merkel

21 March 2017, 02:33 | Darnell Patrick

Germany 'must decide if Turkey is a friend or not', Turkish foreign minister says

Turkey tells Germany not to preach about democracy

Turkish politicians were welcome to speak in Germany, she said, if - as was apparently not the case last week - their appearances were registered properly in advance with the authorities.

"The breakdown lines between the various camps in Turkey are mirrored in Germany", he said. He said Turkey would then take steps accordingly.

Tensions have been rocketing between North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies Turkey and Germany over the past week after the cancellation of several rallies where Turkish cabinet ministers were due to whip up support for a "yes" vote in the April 16 referendum.

Germany is home to a sizeable Turkish community, with some 1.4 million able to vote in Turkey - a potential electoral goldmine in the Erdogan government's campaign to create an executive presidency.

"When the Turkish president and his foreign minister say that today's Germany is worse than Nazi Germany, I can't accept it", the former Luxembourg prime minister said.

"Do you think that by not allowing them to speak the votes in Germany will come out "no" instead of 'yes?'" Erdogan said.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's office firmly rejected the Nazi jibe as "absurd and out of place".

Adding to the recent tension with Germany has been Turkey's arrest in February of German newspaper reporter Deniz Yucel, whom Erdogan has accused of being both a German spy and a "representative" of the outlawed Kurdish rebel group PKK.

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"The Turks have chosen to hold a referendum to give more power to the dictator Erdogan", he said.

Officially, the rallies were halted by Germany officials for health and safety reasons. "In general, there is a campaign against Turkey".

Mr Wilders led a small rally of a few dozen activists outside the Turkish embassy as he tried to recover from his anti-Islam Freedom Party's slide in the opinion polls just one week before a parliamentary election in the Netherlands.

Mr Wilders' opposition right-wing Freedom Party, which wants to shut mosques, ban the Koran, quit the European Union and stop Muslim immigration, led opinion polls for most of a year ago but is now losing ground to the conservative Christian Democrats (CDA) and the far-left Socialists.

He also kept up the anti-German tirade after the meeting, telling press at a business fair later the same day that: "In Germany we see many politicians and the press. are very harsh and very anti-Turkey and we even see Islamophobic sentiment".

Yucel, a reporter for Die Welt with German and Turkish citizenship, was detained in Istanbul over his reports about a hacker attack on the email account of the country's energy minister.

Rather, the Netherlands does not want to host a Turkish minister lobbying overseas for a referendum that could take Turkey further away from the democratic fold, Rutte said.

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