BERLIN, Germany - As the Turkish president intensifies his attacks on Germany, this time accusing German Chancellor Angela Merkel of using "Nazi measures" in an escalating diplomatic feud - Germany has now spoken out.
On Sunday, a livid Germany warned Turkey after its President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent comments - that have threatened Ankara’s longtime bid to join the European Union.
Erdogan said in a televised speech on Sunday, “When we call them Nazis they (Europe) get uncomfortable. They rally together in solidarity. Especially Merkel. But you are right now employing Nazi measures. Against who? My Turkish brother citizens in Germany and brother ministers who planned to hold campaign rallies for a 'yes' vote in the referendum.”
Reacting to his comments, Germany's Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel branded Erdogan's comments "shocking.”
Gabriel said in a statement to the Passauer Neue Presse newspaper, “We are tolerant but we're not stupid. That's why I have let my Turkish counterpart know very clearly that a boundary has been crossed here."
Further, even Julia Kloeckner, the vice-president of Merkel's CDU party reacted comments and questioned, “Has Mr. Erdogan lost his mind?"
Kloeckner said she has been urging the EU to freeze "financial aid amounting to billions of euros" to Turkey.
Erdogan’s recent comments came in response to a rally held in Frankfurt rally on Saturday, urging a 'no' vote in Turkey’s integral upcoming referendum. Protesters reportedly brandished insignia of outlawed Kurdish rebels, accusing Germany of double standards.
In response, the Turkish foreign ministry accused the German authorities "of the worst example of double standards" for allowing the pro-Kurdish protest while preventing Turkish ministers from campaigning in the country.
Earlier, Turkey had vowed the harshest retort to a Dutch snub after the Netherlands prevented Turkey's family minister from entering the Turkish consulate in downtown Rotterdam.
Following the snub, riots broke out outside the consulate.
The incident took place less than a day after Dutch authorities prevented Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu from flying to Rotterdam.
Turkey's family minister was headed to the Netherlands in a bid to win support among expatriates ahead of a crucial referendum on expanding Turkish presidential powers, scheduled to be held on April 16.
The new constitution will transform the country from a parliamentary republic to a presidential one - in which Erdogan would receive sweeping new powers over the budget, appointment of ministers and judges, and the power to dismiss parliament, among others.
However, to get the law passed, Erdogan needs the votes of citizens living within Turkey and abroad.
According to figures, there are 5.5 million Turks living outside the country, with 1.4 million eligible voters in Germany, the biggest Turkish diaspora in the world and 400,000 Turkish citizens live in the Netherlands.
The Dutch government said it considered the visits undesirable and "the Netherlands could not cooperate in the public political campaigning of Turkish ministers in the Netherlands."
The government stated that such rallies would stoke tensions days before the Netherlands' general election.
This after Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at the Dutch government, calling them "Nazi remnants and fascists" for denying the rallies.
The incident in the Netherlands came immediately after Turkey’s ugly spat with Germany, after permissions for rallies aimed at wooing the ethnic Turkish voters in Germany were withdrawn by authorities in Gaggenau, Cologne and Frechen.
Following the cancellations, Erdogan compared German officials to Nazis.