Erdogan vows Turkey will ‘review relations with EU’

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan salutes as he arrives to attend a ceremony marking the 102nd anniversary of Gallipoli campaign, in the Aegean port of Canakkale, near GallipoliImage copyright

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Mr Erdogan described Europe as “anti-Islam and anti-Turkish”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed to review relations with the “fascist and cruel” European Union, amid a growing row with EU countries.

Mr Erdogan is urging his supporters to vote Yes in a referendum next month to give the Turkish leader greater powers.

He accused Germany and the Netherlands of “Nazi” tactics after they refused to let Turkish ministers hold referendum rallies in their countries.

A German politician said Mr Erdogan was no longer welcome in Germany.

Volker Bouffier, vice chairman of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, said “enough is enough… Mr Erdogan and his government are not welcome in our country, and that must be now be understood.”

Another CDU politician, Reiner Haseloff, said: “Those who compare us to Nazis are not welcome.”

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Germany is home to 1.4m people who are eligible to vote in Turkey’s 16 April referendum.

Speaking on Tuesday, Mr Erdogan announced he would review relations with the EU, and promised a “very different Turkey” after the referendum.

“This Europe, like before World War Two, is a racist, fascist, cruel Europe… An anti-Islam and anti-Turkish Europe,” Mr Erdogan told a rally in Ankara.

“Give such a response, that those watching us on the screen, those watching us abroad, our citizens, all of Europe, all of the world can hear this.”

The EU has criticised the referendum, saying it would concentrate too much power in the president’s hands.

Could Erdogan’s rhetoric backfire? by Mark Lowen, BBC News, Istanbul

President Erdogan’s scramble for the votes of the far right goes on. After hitting out at European leaders last week, Turkey’s president has turned his wrath on the entire EU.

The inflammatory rhetoric is wholly focused on winning over nationalists before a referendum on expanding the president’s powers: they could be the kingmakers.

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The man’s banner reads: “The chief [President Erdogan] is speaking / Germany is trembling / America is jumping / England is quivering /Down with them all”

But it also typifies Mr Erdogan’s bellicose style. The man who launched Turkey’s EU membership talks 12 years ago has become increasingly anti-western and suspicious.

He feeds the perpetual paranoia from Ottoman times about outside forces destroying the state. The old Turkish saying “the only friend of a Turk is a Turk” could easily have come from President Erdogan’s political rulebook.

The problem is that once the referendum has passed, the bad blood with Europe will remain. Calling Turkey’s closest European and Nato allies “Nazis” and “fascists” isn’t exactly a recipe for closer future relations.

President Erdogan thinks the EU needs Turkey more than the other way around. But he may be dangerously mistaken.

Mr Erdogan told the rally Turkey would no longer be threatened by the prospect of EU membership, which it applied to join in 2005 – an application which has since moved at a glacial pace.

He also said he would not allow any European agents onto Turkish soil.

Last week, Mr Erdogan said the EU could “forget about” Turkey re-admitting failed asylum seekers who had reached Europe via Turkey, despite a previous agreement to do so.

The EU Commission has said that it expects Turkey to comply with its commitments under the accord.

Mrs Merkel and French President Francois Hollande also criticised Mr Erdogan’s “Nazi” comments, calling them “unacceptable”.

Erdogan vows Turkey will ‘review relations with EU’