Turkey's Erdogan Says Relations With 'Fascist' Europe Will Change After April Vote

Amid row with European leaders, Erdogan threatens to use new powers he could potentially acquire in a referendum, to upset the status-quo with Europe.

A handout made available by the Turkish Presidential Press Service on March 18, 2017, shows President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a ceremony in Canakkale, western Turkey.
A handout made available by the Turkish Presidential Press Service on March 18, 2017, shows President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a ceremony in Canakkale, western Turkey. YASIN BULBUL/AFP

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday said after an April referendum Turkey may review relations with Europe, which he described as "fascist and cruel" and resembling that of the pre-World War Two era.

Turkey and Europe are at loggerheads with Ankara accusing some European countries such as Germany and the Netherlands of applying what it says are "Nazi methods" by banning the rallies of Turkish ministers among expatriate Turks ahead of a key vote that could give Erdogan greater powers.

Turkey will no longer be threatened by the European Union (EU) membership process, Erdogan said and added that, from now on, it will not allow any Europeans on Turkish soil to carry out "spying" under various pretexts.

Just prior to Erdogan's comments on Tuesday, a political ally of Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel said that Erdogan has crossed a line by comparing Germany's government to the Nazis and is no longer welcome in the country.

The rebuke from Volker Bouffier, premier of Hesse state, reflected growing exasperation over Erdogan's assertions that Germany and other European powers were using Nazi tactics by banning Turkish political rallies in their territories.

"Enough is enough," said Bouffier, also vice chairman of Merkel's Christian Democratic Union. "Mr. Erdogan and his government are not welcome in our country, and that must be now be understood," he told broadcaster DLF.

Germany media had reported that Erdogan was planning to visit Germany in March to rally Turkish people living there to support a package of new presidential powers in an April referendum.

Bouffier said such a visit would create security problems. "Someone who insults us in this way cannot expect that we will assemble thousands of police to protect him," he said.Germany's government has said it has not received a formal request for a visit by Erdogan.

Merkel called on Monday for Turkey to stop the Nazi comparisons and said her government reserved the right to block future appearances by Turkish officials if they did not comply with German law.

Reiner Haseloff, another member of Merkel's conservatives and premier of Saxony-Anhalt state, urged Berlin to barr such visits.

"Every statesman that wants to discuss something with us is welcome as a guest, and will be welcomed with the proper diplomatic protocol, but that does not include campaigning, and especially not by people who are discrediting us as a nation," he told the Welt newspaper in an article published on Tuesday.

"Those who compare us to Nazis are not welcome. That is not acceptable," he said, adding that Berlin should not rely on local and state governments to make decisions about visits by Turkish politicians as it has up to now.