Hurriyet - Some European Union countries cannot tolerate Turkey’s rise as an emerging power, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on March 13, accusing them of working against the "Yes” vote in Turkey’s April 16 constitutional referendum.
"A part of the European Union countries, unfortunately, cannot tolerate the rise of Turkey, and Germany is right at the top [of the list]. Germany relentlessly supports terrorism,” Erdoğan said in an interview aired live on private broadcasters A Haber and ATV.
Erdoğan lashed out at German Chancellor Angela Merkel who said earlier on March 13 that the Netherlands had her "full support and solidarity,” amid escalating crisis between Turkey and the Netherlands.
"Merkel! Shame on you! Stand by the Netherlands as you like. You are supporting terrorists,” he said, adding that Turkey had sent Germany 4,500 files on terrorists, but Germany had done nothing about it.
His remarks came amid an ongoing standoff between Turkey and the Netherlands after the Dutch government banned planned rallies of Turkish ministers ahead of the referendum.
On March 11, the Dutch government first cancelled Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu’s flight permit to the Netherlands and then blocked a convoy carrying Family Minister Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya, forcing her to leave the country under police escort.
Turkish citizens protested the Dutch move in Rotterdam, but were met by police using batons, dogs and water cannons, which some analysts said it was a disproportionate use of force.
The events have drawn strong criticism from the Turkish government, which, earlier on March 13, sent diplomatic notes to the Netherlands in protest.
Two weeks ago, Turkish government ministers were also barred from holding public rallies in two German cities.
Erdoğan said he would not be content with only a simple apology from the Netherlands on this issue. "They will pay the price for this sooner or later,” he said, adding the Dutch government would be called to account for the recent events.
Erdoğan previously accused Germany and the Netherlands of ignoring the Vienna Convention, and of being fascist and employing Nazi practices.
"We can call it neo-Nazism. That’s their understanding of the Vienna Convention,” Erdoğan said.
Signed in 1961, the Vienna Convention is an international treaty that defines a framework for diplomatic relations between independent countries. It also specifies the privileges of a diplomatic mission that enable diplomats to perform their function without fear of coercion or harassment by the host country.
The president also voiced support for a proposed constitutional change that would lower the minimum age to become a lawmaker from 25 to 18.
"What could be more beautiful than this? This is paving the way for all young people in Turkey to take firm steps toward the future. Their energy will refresh the Turkish parliament,” Erdoğan said.
He slammed the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu for criticizing the proposal, however Kılıçdaroğlu and many other supporters of the "No” vote say the change paves the way for "political aristocracy” and is a way for government politicians’ sons to avoid military conscription.
"They have reduced the minimum parliamentary candidacy age to 18 for their own children and grandchildren. They will make them deputies at the age of 18 and will exempt them from military service with an amendment,” he said on March 6.
Erdoğan rebuked the "No” campaigners, saying, "They are not against the system. They are actually against the Turkish people. They are siding with terrorists.”