In an apparent move to distance itself from the controversial statements of a German politician who likened Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to a “sewer rat,” the German Foreign Ministry has said insulting statements have no place in international relations, Deutsche Welle Turkish edition reported.
Vice chair of coalition partner the Free Democrats (FDP) and a vice president of the German Parliament, Wolfgang Kubicki sparked an angry reaction from Turkey when he made controversial remarks about Erdoğan during a recent FDP election campaign event in Hildesheim, Lower Saxony.
Kubicki, who warned of a new wave of refugees in Europe, said Germany should not “simply open its arms again” as it did during the refugee crisis of 2015 and 2016. He said he knows who was behind the refugee wave back then.
“Erdoğan, the sewer rat,” said Kubicki.
The German politician’s remarks prompted the Turkish Foreign Ministry to summon German Ambassador to Turkey Jürgen Schulz on Tuesday to protest Kubicki’s remarks.
A spokesperson from the German Foreign Ministry was asked about Kubicki’s remarks at a news conference in Berlin on Wednesday. The spokesperson said dealings with representatives of other states must be based on respect, adding that insulting statements have no place in international relations and communications. The spokesperson said the ministry expects lawmakers to act accordingly.
Kubicki, however, confirmed making the comment during an election campaign rally, when contacted by Reuters, while trying to draw attention to a rise in the number of illegal migrants moving from Turkey along the so-called Balkan route towards Germany.
“A sewer rat is a small, cute, but at the same time clever and crafty creature that also appears in children’s stories,” Kubicki said, citing the popular animated movie “Ratatouille” as an example.
“But at the same time we must note that the wave of refugees along the Balkan route [from Turkey] is again increasing, which is a challenge for German foreign and domestic policy,” he said.
Turkey is a candidate for EU membership, but negotiations have long been stalled amid disagreements on a number of issues including Ankara’s human rights record, migration and geopolitics.
Insulting the president is a criminal offense in Turkey, where Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) have held power for two decades.