(Adds quotes, background)
BERLIN, March 9 German Chancellor Angela Merkel
told Turkey to stop using Nazi references in an escalating row
between the NATO allies over the cancellation of Turkish
ministers' rallies in Germany, only for the Turkish foreign
minister to repeat the same comparison.
Turkey is fuming that some German authorities, citing
security concerns, have stopped its ministers from campaigning
among Germany's large Turkish community for President Tayyip
Erdogan's bid to boost his powers in a referendum on April 16.
Berlin, meanwhile, is angry about the arrest of a
Turkish-German journalist in Istanbul held on terrorism charges
and has repeatedly called for his release.
Merkel spoke unusually bluntly in the Bundestag lower house
of parliament, saying she was saddened by the deep differences
which were dividing the allies despite common causes, such as
fighting Islamist terrorism.
She said they should try to overcome their differences but
that Nazi comparisons were unjustifiable and "so misplaced that
you can't seriously comment on them".
"These comparisons of Germany with Nazism must stop. They
are unworthy of the close ties between Germany and Turkey and of
our peoples," the centre-right chancellor said.
However, Turkey's Foreign Minister effectively repeated the
comparison within hours, saying that he was not calling the
current German government Nazis but that their actions were
reminiscent of that era.
On Sunday, Erdogan described the cancellations as "fascist
actions" reminiscent of the Nazi era.
Merkel stressed that while she was open to dialogue with
Turkey, an aspiring member of the European Union, but any talks
had to be based on democratic values.
"From our point of view it's worth making every endeavour to
advocate for German-Turkish relations but on the basis of our
values and our expectations and with clarity," she said.
She said that the roughly 3 million people with Turkish ties
living in Germany were part of German society, but she warned
that domestic conflicts should not spill over into Germany. Many
workers came to Germany after World War Two and helped to
transform the economy into Europe's powerhouse.
Bilateral ties have deteriorated significantly in the last
year over a series of rows, from a legal case over a German
comedian who poked fun at Erdogan to a parliamentary vote
calling the 1915 massacre of Armenians by Ottoman forces
Relations between the EU and Turkey have soured further
since July's failed coup in Turkey, with Germany and others
criticising the scale of Erdogan's crackdown on suspected coup
(Reporting by Michelle Martin and Madeline Chambers; Editing by