Merkel says Erdogan terror comments ‘absurd’
German Chancellor Angela Merkel regards accusations by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that she supports “terrorists” as “clearly absurd”, her spokesman Steffen Seibert said late Monday.
“The chancellor has no intention of taking part in a game of provocation,” Seibert said in a brief written statement. “These accusations are clearly absurd.”
Erdogan, whose government is embroiled in a spiralling row with European governments over the cancellation of pro-Ankara rallies on their soil, had shortly earlier asked Merkel why she was “hiding terrorists” in her territory, accusing Berlin of not responding to 4,500 dossiers sent by Ankara on terror suspects.
“Mrs Merkel, why are you hiding terrorists in your country?… Why are you not doing anything?” Erdogan said in an interview with A-Haber television. “Mrs Merkel, you are supporting terrorists,” he added.
The scathing broadside against Merkel came hours after the European Union urged him to avoid inflammatory rhetoric in a growing standoff with Germany and the Netherlands over the blocking of ministers seeking to address rallies promoting a ‘yes’ vote in the April 16 referendum on giving him greater powers.
Erdogan had twice over the weekend accused NATO ally Netherlands of acting like the Nazis, comments that sparked outrage in a country bombed and occupied by German forces in World War II.
Erdogan has been seeking to harness the Turkish diaspora vote — which numbers as many as 1.4 million in Germany alone — ahead of the referendum on creating an executive presidency and scrapping the post of prime minister.
The row erupted on March 2 when local authorities in the western German town of Gaggenau cancelled a rally which Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag was set to attend, ostensibly for logistical reasons. Other local authorities followed suit, sparking fury in Ankara.