Erdogan warns 'Turkey won't be pushed around'

Turkish president urges EU countries to respect democracy, human rights and freedoms

Erdogan warns 'Turkey won't be pushed around'

World Bulletin / News Desk

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Wednesday that Europeans risk being unsafe on the world's streets, as a crisis between Ankara and the EU showed no signs of abating.

"If you continue to behave like this, tomorrow in no part of the world, no European, no Westerner will be able to take steps on the street safely and peacefully," Erdogan said during a speech in Ankara.

Erdogan did not expand on what he meant by his comments but appeared to imply that Europeans risked receiving the same treatment that, he says, is endured by Turks and Muslims in Europe.

Relations between Turkey and Europe have been severely strained since Turkish ministers were thwarted from campaigning on the continent for a 'yes' vote in next month's referendum on expanding Erdogan's powers.

Ankara has said such behaviour was reminiscent of Nazi Germany and also raised alarm over what it sees as rising racism and Islamophobia.

“Turkey is not a country whose ministers can be kicked out, and whose citizens can be kicked around," Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at a meeting with members of the Anatolian Publishers Association at the presidential palace in Ankara.

The president's remarks came amid ongoing tensions with several European countries over their refusal to allow Turkish ministers to hold public rallies ahead of Turkey’s April 16 referendum.

On March 11, the Dutch government first canceled a flight by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and then blocked a convoy carrying Family Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya, forcing her to leave the country under police escort. The ministers had been due to meet Turkish residents ahead of the referendum vote.

When Turkish citizens in Rotterdam tried to peacefully protest, they were met by police using batons, dogs and water cannons, in what some analysts called a disproportionate use of force.

Turkey has strongly condemned the incidents and suspended high-level diplomatic ties with the Netherlands.

Erdogan called on the European countries to respect democracy, human rights and freedoms.

“As Turkey, we invite the European countries to respect democracy, human rights and freedoms. It should be remembered that Europeans in particular need these values as much as we do," he said.

He also criticized again German Chancellor Angela Merkel over her remarks of solidarity with the Netherlands, a country Erdogan said "closed its door to Turkish ministers," and "let its dogs loose on my [Turkish] citizens".

"So, you say you are standing by the Netherlands. Fine. Then I am standing by my people and God," he said.

Tensions between Turkey and Germany have increased over the recent weeks due to the decision of local authorities to cancel planned campaign rallies by Turkish ministers who favor constitutional change for a transition to a presidential system.

While Chancellor Angela Merkel’s federal government has distanced itself from the decisions of local authorities, Turkish politicians have accused the government of carrying out a covert and systematic campaign to obstruct their rallies, and favoring the No campaign.

The cancellation of referendum rallies drew the ire of Turkey, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan comparing the move to Nazi-era practices.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 22 Mart 2017, 20:47