AFP Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey
Mar 05, 2017, 09.39 PM
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused Germany of failing to shed "Nazi practices" after Berlin banned several rallies in the country that support widening of presidential powers in Turkey.
Turkey will hold a referendum on April 16 in which people will decide whether to enhance presidential powers, a move Erdogan's critics say will make the government dysfunctional.
If the "Yes" campaign wins, it will legitimise Erdogan's presidential tenure till 2029 and give him sweeping powers, including the provision to hand out executive orders.
While Germany has banned some of the pro-Erdogan rallies in its country, the Turkish government believes Berlin to be working against them.
Germany has been host to several such rallies in recent days as it is home to a vast number of Turks -- around three million -- a demography that Erdogan has been pressing to vote for the "Yes" cause.
If the 'Yes' campaign wins, it will legitimise Erdogan's presidential tenure till 2029 and give him sweeping powers, including the provision to hand out executive orders
Taking a swipe at Berlin's apparent decision to go against Erdogan, the Turkish president thundered at a women's rally in Istanbul: ""Germany, you are not even close to democracy. Your practices are not different from the Nazi practices of the past."
"I thought it's been a long time since Germany left (Nazi practices). We are mistaken," he added.
The attack came a day after German Chancellor Angela Merkel called Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim to try to defuse the row, which has put a major new strain on already bruised ties between the NATO allies.
After Erdogan's outburst, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu spoke by phone with German counterpart Sigmar Gabriel late Sunday, a call that came at the request of the German side, a Turkish official said on condition of anonymity.
The pair are set to meet on Wednesday, it was announced last week. In a bid to defuse the row, Merkel also called the Turkish premier on Saturday.
Germany is home to the largest population of Turks outside Turkey with around three million in the country of Turkish origin, the legacy of a massive "guest worker" programme in the 1960s-70s.