German Justice Minister Heiko Maas has described as “absurd” remarks made by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who accused Germany of employing practices similar to those of the Nazi era by refusing to allow Turkish ministers to deliver speeches in the country.
“It’s absurd, malicious and far-fetched, and [we] vehemently reject it,” Maas said on the television talk show “Anne Will” on Sunday.
German authorities last week did not allow Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ and Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekçi to deliver speeches in some German towns during which the ministers would ask for support from Turkish expatriates for a constiutional reform package, which will introduce an executive presidency and further strengthen Erdoğan.
Speaking at a meeting at İstanbul Abdi İpekçi Sports Hall on Sunday, Erdoğan said: “Oh Germany, you have nothing to do with democracy. Your practices are no different than the Nazi practices of the past. You give us a lesson in democracy but you don’t allow Turkish ministers to speak there. We will mention this in international settings and make you ashamed in front of the world. We don’t want to see that Nazi Germany. We thought it was high time Germany abandoned such practices, but we were mistaken.”
The German minister also questioned whether Berlin should react at all to Erdoğan’s inflammatory comments.
“He wants to provoke [us]. And we have to take care that we don’t let ourselves be provoked,” he said..
Over 3 million people of Turkish descent live in Germany. Nearly 1.4 million of them are eligible to vote in Turkish elections and referenda.
Volker Kauder, the parliamentary leader of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), also slammed Erdoğan’s remarks.
“It’s an unbelievable and unacceptable act for the president of a NATO member to say such a thing about another member,” he said on the ARD television show “Bericht aus Berlin” (Report from Berlin).