BERLIN: Germany’s chancellery on Monday hit out against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for likening a German ban on rallies by his ministers to “Nazi practices”, calling the comparison “absolutely unacceptable”.
“The government will make this very clear” to Turkey, Peter Altmaier, chief of staff at the chancellery, told public broadcaster ARD. “There is absolutely no reason to allow ourselves to be reproached over this,” he added.
Several local authorities in Germany last week banned rallies by Turkish ministers seeking to campaign for support ahead of an April referendum on boosting Erdogan’s powers. The authorities had cited capacity problems in hosting the rallies, which they said would likely attract large crowds.
Chancellor Angela Merkel has said her government did not have a hand in the decisions, which fell under the jurisdiction of local authorities.
But Ankara responded to the cancellations with fury.
In a bid to defuse the row, Merkel rang Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yildirim on Saturday.
But a day later, Erdogan lashed out against Berlin, telling a rally in Istanbul: “Germany, you are not even close to democracy. Your practices are not different from the Nazi practices of the past.”
On Monday, Altmaier repeated Merkel’s argument that campaign rallies by Turkish ministers, in general, should not be banned. “But they must adhere to existing rules. They must be registered and subject to checks,” he said.