Erdogan's 'Nazi' Swipe at Germany's Merkel Draws Outrage in Europe

The Turkish president accused the German chancellor of 'committing Nazi practices'; European Parliament president calls the remarks 'unacceptable.'

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Odd Andersen and Ozan Kose, AFP

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan drew criticism on Monday from Germany and elsewhere in Europe for accusing Chancellor Angela Merkel of "committing Nazi practices."

Sunday's accusation was the latest in a string of Turkish comments drawing Nazi parallels with present-day Germany and the Netherlands in a dispute over restrictions on Turkish officials campaigning there in a referendum campaign.

Peter Tauber, the general secretary of Merkel's conservative party, told N24 television that "this is real effrontery toward our chancellor." However, he added that "we can allow ourselves to be outraged, stamp our feet and perhaps fight back — but the chancellor has to safeguard our country's interests."

Merkel has made clear that she doesn't intend to respond to swipes from Turkey, and the government's response was guarded. Last week her spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said she "has no intention of participating in the race of provocations."

"The German government is watching this very attentively," Ulrike Demmer, another spokeswoman for the chancellor, said when asked about Erdogan's latest comments. "It remains the case that Nazi comparisons are unacceptable, no matter in what form."

The European Parliament's president, Antonio Tajani, wrote on Twitter: "An unacceptable attack by @RT_Erdogan on a democratic country that guarantees all fundamental rights."

Erdogan said Sunday of Merkel: "You are committing Nazi practices too. To whom? To my Turkish brothers and sisters in Germany."

Some local German authorities have decided to block appearances by Turkish ministers, but Merkel's federal government so far has made no such decisions.