Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Sunday that he will go to Germany for a referendum rally if he wants to and warned the German government that he would cause the world to rise up if he is not allowed to speak there.
Attacking the German government over the recent cancellation of referendum campaign programs of Turkish ministers in Germany, Erdoğan accused Germany of employing practices similar to those of the Nazi era.
“I thought that Nazism has ended in Germany. But it seems your practices are no different from the Nazi practices of the past,” he said during a speech in İstanbul on Sunday.
Underlining that the recent cancellation of programs planned to be attended by Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ and Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekçi in German towns were an attempt to prevent his arrival in Germany, Erdoğan said: “I will come to Germany if I want to. If you don’t let me in or if you don’t let me speak, I will make the whole world rise up.”
In response to Erdoğan’s remarks, Julia Klöckner, the deputy leader of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) said Erdoğan was “reacting like a defiant child who cannot have his way.”
“The Nazi comparison is a new high point of intemperance. It is simply outrageous! True statesmen do not speak like that.” Klöckner told the German newspaper Bild.
On Thursday, local authorities in southwestern German town of Gaggenau and Cologne canceled the programs of Bozdağ and Zeybekçi, which caused ties between the two countries to strain.
Zeybekçi, however, arrived in the western city of Leverkusen for an event at the Forum cultural center to speak to expatriates in Germany and promote support for the constitutional referendum.
Germany is home to around 1.4 million Turks who are eligible to vote in the referendum on April 16, which will enormously expand Erdoğan’s powers and switch Turkey into an executive presidency.
Turkey’s referendum campaign in Europe has been met with resistance and further cancellations in other countries.
While the Dutch government criticized a planned rally with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşuğlu in Rotterdam this week and called it “undesirable,” Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern on Sunday called for an EU-wide ban on Turkish referendum campaigning.