President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
has again slammed Germany over the decision to ban Turkish ministers from holding events in two German
cities, saying that if he is banned from giving speeches there he “will stir up the world.”
“Now they think Tayyip Erdoğan wants to go to Germany. I will go if I want to. If you don’t let me in, or restrain me from giving a speech, then I will stir up the world,” Erdoğan said at a meeting in Istanbul on March 5.
“I am calling out to the German
authorities, I am calling out to the world that believes in democracy: If we are fighting for freedom, if we are not uncomfortable with freedom of speech, if we believe in democracy, nobody can block us,” he added.
Relations between the two countries lurched further into crisis after the cancelation of government members’ meetings with Turkish citizens in Germany ahead of the April 16 referendum on shifting Turkey to an executive presidential system.
Turkey reacted harshly against the cancelations and summoned the German
ambassador to the Foreign Ministry in Ankara
to express its disturbance. The Turkish and German
prime ministers spoke on the phone on March 4 to find a way to solve the problem but Erdoğan’s “Nazi period” comparison enflamed the disagreement once again.
“I thought Germany left [Nazi practices] behind a long time ago. But it appears they are still in effect. If you believe in democracy, my minister will be able to meet with your minister and will be able to hold a hall meeting. Why are you uncomfortable with that?” Erdoğan said.
He also accused Berlin of supporting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party
(PKK) and the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP C).
“While preventing the president of the Republic of Turkey from participating in such a meeting with a teleconference, Germany allowed Cemil Bayık to join a meeting in the same way by teleconference ... That is their understanding of democracy. In the same countries, the PKK
and DHKP-C terrorists are on the streets,” Erdoğan said, referring to an earlier cancelation of his teleconference meeting.
He also suggested that the main reason behind the restriction of the ministers was the arrest of German
newspaper Die Welt’s correspondent Deniz Yücel, who he described as a “terrorist.”
“Do you know what’s interesting? It seems the reason behind all these events was this terrorist. That man is a terrorist, not a journalist. The German
government, unfortunately, has put my ministers in the same equation as a terrorist. That is the problem,” Erdoğan said, adding that he conveyed his concerns to German
Chancellor Angela Merkel
but “did not find any response.”
“They did not hand him over even though I told her: ‘You have been hiding this man, this terrorist, within the residence of the German
Consulate General in [Istanbul’s] Tarabya for a month,’” Erdoğan said.
The Turkish authorities on Feb. 27 arrested Yücel on charges of “propaganda in support of a terrorist organization” and “inciting the public to violence.” Yücel, a dual citizen of Turkey and Germany, was initially detained by police on Feb. 14.
Erdoğan also slammed the Netherlands for taking a similar stance as Germany. The Dutch government on March 3 said it opposed plans by Turkish authorities to hold a referendum campaign rally in Rotterdam, saying it would inform Ankara
of its opposition to the “undesirable” move.
“Now we have seen that the Netherlands made a similar statement. What a shame. They do not act with their own will,” Erdoğan said.