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DIPLOMACY >I will describe Europe as Nazis as long as they call me a dictator: Erdoğan

ANKARA

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President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said he will continue to call European countries “Nazis” as long as they continue to call him a dictator.

“You have the freedom to call Erdoğan a dictator but Erdoğan does not have the freedom to call you a fascist or a Nazi. Take no offense, but I will continue to use the same concepts for them as long as they continue to call Erdoğan a dictator,” Erdoğan said in a live interview with Doğan TV Ankara representative Hakan Çelik aired on CNN Türk and Kanal D on March 23.

Erdoğan also said he deplored newly elected German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s remarks targeting himself.

“German President Steinmeier made a statement targeting me although we are good friends. I deplore him for his statement. I wish he had never made such a statement,” he said.

In his first speech as president, Steinmeier said Erdoğan threatened to destroy everything his country had achieved in recent years while also damaging ties with Turkey’s partners.

“The way we look [at Turkey] is characterized by worry that everything that has been built up over the years and decades is collapsing,” Steinmeier said on March 22 in his inaugural speech.

“President Erdoğan, you are jeopardizing everything that you, with others, have built,” he said, adding that he would welcome “credible signs” to ease the situation.

Erdoğan also added that he had no plans to visit Germany before the referendum.

In addition, the president also clarified his “Nazi” remarks for the Netherlands and Germany, saying that he uttered those words within the context of their definition.

“If I criticize Germany, I say this within its definition. If I say this by using the Nazi comparison, I say within its definition. I also say the same thing for the Netherlands. You will not allow my minister into the [Rotterdam] consulate and you will make your dogs bite my citizens… Where is international law? Then you are disturbed when we say Nazism,” he said.

He also stated that the European countries could be faced with a surprise depending on the results of the April 16 referendum.

Erdoğan also noted that the problems with Europe were caused by some EU countries, while also acknowledging the United Kingdom’s Brexit decision.

Erdoğan also criticized EU Council President Donald Tusk and Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn over their remarks about him, saying, “Insolent people cannot boss about insolence.”

“President Donald Tusk even makes statement against me although he is a good friend of mine. Won’t we take a stance against them if they do such a thing? The person who is responsible for enlargement – I will not even give his name [Hahn] – calls us insolent. He should look in the mirror. Insolents cannot boss about insolence and cannot say this. They should know that those who go so much further will find exactly the same response from us,” he said.

The president also said the U.S. and Russian attention toward the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) saddened Turkey.

Regarding the U.S. and British ban on devices bigger than a cellphone in the cabin on flights from several countries including Turkey, Erdoğan said the implementation had damaged mutual confidence and said he hoped the mistake would be corrected soon. 

Erdoğan said he would have “face-to-face” talks with the new U.S. administration in May and that Syria and Fethullah Gülen, the U.S.-based Islamic preacher blamed for July 2016’s failed coup, were the top bilateral issues.

Ankara has been embroiled in a row with Berlin and other European capitals over campaigning among the Turkish diaspora for the April 16 referendum on whether to implement an executive presidency with vastly expanded powers for Erdoğan.

Turkey has repeatedly accused Germany of using “Nazi” tactics” to ban ministerial appearances and has caused anger in Germany by detaining German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yücel, whom Erdoğan has already declared a “terrorist” on more than one occasion.  

“End the unspeakable Nazi comparisons. Do not cut the ties to those people who want partnership with Turkey. Respect the rule of law and the freedom of media and journalists. And release Deniz Yücel,” Steinmeier said.

March/23/2017

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