European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has criticized President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for his comparison of Germany and the Netherlands to the Nazis, saying that such remarks serve to further distance Turkey from the European Union.
Erdoğan accused Germany and the Netherlands of “employing Nazi practices” and being “Nazi remnants and fascists,” after these countries refused to allow some Turkish government officials to hold campaign rallies there for an upcoming public referendum in Turkey.
Juncker, who spoke at a plenary session of the European Parliament on Wednesday, said he was “scandalized” by Erdoğan’s Nazi comments and would never accept a comparison between the Nazis and the governments currently in power.
“You know my home country, Luxembourg, was occupied by the Nazis, our people were suffering. My father was forced into the German army, together with his three brothers. If you are establishing a comparison of that period with our times – this is totally unacceptable. And the one who is doing this is taking distance from Europe and not trying to enter the European Union. The European Union is not joining Turkey – Turkey is joining the European Union,” he said.
Turkey is a candidate to join the European Union, although the membership negotiations have made little progress over the past decade. The country has become a vital partner in a deal with the European Union to curb the passage of migrants and refugees from Turkey into Europe.
European Council president Donald Tusk also criticized Erdoğan for his Nazi remarks, accusing him of being detached from reality.
“Rotterdam, the city of Erasmus, totally destroyed by the Nazis, which now has a mayor born in Morocco: if any anyone sees fascism in Rotterdam they are completely detached from reality,” Tusk told the European Parliament on Wednesday.
Turkey’s relations with Germany, Austria and the Netherlands have been strained over these countries’ refusal to allow Turkish government officials to hold rallies there ahead of a public referendum in Turkey in April.
Turkey will hold a referendum on April 16 on a constitutional reform package that will introduce an executive presidency in the country if approved.
Germany, Austria and the Netherlands have canceled scheduled events to be participated in by Turkish ministers, usually out of security concerns.
A large number of Turkish citizens or people of Turkish origin live in these countries, and Turkish citizens living abroad have the right to vote in elections and referenda.