HANOVER, Germany (Reuters) – Chancellor Angela Merkel demanded again on Monday that Turkey stops comparing German bans on rallies by Turkish officials to Nazi tactics, and said her government reserved the right to block future appearances unless Ankara complied with German law.
Berlin is growing increasingly frustrated about Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan repeatedly accusing it of applying “Nazi methods” by banning rallies aimed at drumming up support among Turks in Germany for a referendum that would strengthen the power of his presidency.
“My demand that Turkey should stop Nazi comparisons remains in force, with no ifs or buts,” Merkel told reporters at the CeBIT technology fair in Hanover.
“Unfortunately, we have observed that these comparisons have not stopped, and we will not tolerate that every taboo is broken.”
Ties between Turkey, Germany and other European countries have deteriorated in recent weeks amid growing tensions over the April referendum vote and concern over an increasingly authoritarian tone from Ankara.
Merkel said the German foreign ministry had warned Ankara in an “unambiguous” diplomatic communication, or “note verbale”, in recent days that Turkish politicians could speak in Germany only if they complied with the country’s law, which explicitly bans malicious disparagement of the German government.
If laws are violated, “the German government reserves the right to take all necessary measures, including a re-examination of all appearances approved as part of the diplomatic communication,” she said.
Merkel’s spokeswoman told a regular government news conference that “Nazi comparisons are unacceptable in any form”, adding that it was up to Turkey to tone down its rhetoric and avert damage to relations between the two countries.
Erdogan had said in a speech in Istanbul on Sunday: “Merkel, now you’re applying Nazi methods. Against my brothers who live in Germany, and against my ministers and lawmakers who visit there. Would this suit the ethics of politics? Your mission is not to support terrorist organizations, but to extradite them.”
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said he worried that the conflict would spill over to ties between German citizens and those of Turkish descent.
“We belong together. We are one people,” he said at an event in Berlin.
(Reporting by Andreas Rinke in Hanover, Paul Carrel and Hans-Edzard Busemann in Berlin and Ece Toksabay in Ankara,; Writing by Andrea Shalal, editing by Ed Osmond)