Turkey threatens EU on migrant deal as Erdogan blasts ‘spirit of fascism’

A staff adjusts European Union and Turkish flags ahead of the arrival of Turkey's PM Erdogan at the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels. [Reuters]

Turkey on Wednesday (15 March) threatened once again to scrap a critical deal on halting the flow of migrants to the EU amid a spiralling war of words between Ankara and the bloc.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said the “spirit of fascism” was running rampant in Europe, the latest in a series of incendiary verbal attacks that have left EU politicians aghast and sparked calls for moderation.

Turkey and the European Union have become embroiled in an explosive crisis after key EU members The Netherlands and Germany blocked Turkish ministers from holding rallies to back constitutional changes expanding Erdoğan’s powers in a 16 April referendum.

Erdoğan has repeatedly accused the two countries of behaving like “Nazis”, drawing a firm response from EU chief who on Wednesday blasted his comments as “detached from reality” and incompatible with Turkey’s ambitions to join the bloc.

Erdogan pledges to punish ‘Nazi remnant’ Netherlands ‘in harshest way’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called the Netherlands a ‘Nazi remnant’ and said the country should face sanctions for barring Turkish ministers from speaking in Rotterdam, fuelling a row over Ankara’s political campaigning abroad.

 

But far from stepping back, Erdoğan ratcheted his rhetoric up a further notch, comparing the treatment of non-Europeans in Europe to that of the Jews in World War II and pointing to the rise of far-right populist politicians on the continent.

“The spirit of fascism is running wild on the streets of Europe,” Erdoğan said in a televised speech.

“Europe is heading towards being drowned in its own fears,” the president added. “Turkophobia is mounting. Islamophobia is mounting. They are even scared of migrants who take shelter there.”

Merkel rejects Erdogan's ‘absurd’ Nazi comparison, calls for calm

Germany rejected as “absurd” yesterday (6 March) Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s comparison of its ban on several rallies to the Nazi era, but it also stressed the importance of ties between the two NATO allies in an attempt to defuse an escalating war of words.

‘We can stop migrant deal’

Under the March 2016 migrant deal, Turkey agreed to tighten its maritime borders and also break up the people-smuggling networks that had helped migrants to make the risky crossing across the Aegean to Greece – the starting point of the trek to northern Europe.

But Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told 24 TV in an interview that Turkey was ready to walk away from the accord given the current crisis.

“We can stop it (the deal) unilaterally. We have not yet informed our (EU) counterparts, all of this is in our hands,” he said.

Ankara threatened to scrap the deal many times before.

Erdogan threatens to send refugees to the EU by plane and bus

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an today (11 February) slammed EU and UN pressure to open Turkey’s borders to more refugees, threatening to send the millions already in the country to other states.

He lambasted the EU for failing to allow Turks visa-free travel in return, an incentive promised to Turkey if it fulfilled its side of the bargain.

Juncker tells Turks to blame Erdogan if visa-free deal fails

The European Union stepped up criticism yesterday (8 November) of Turkey’s crackdown on opponents and alleged plotters behind a failed coup, drawing a sharp retort from Ankara, which accused Europe of failing to grasp the threats it faces.

Çavuşoğlu said Turkey was no longer implementing a key part of the deal, whereby it took back migrants who landed on the Greek islands as a deterrent.

“Right now we are not implementing the readmission agreement as there is no visa-free travel,” said Çavuşoğlu.

The deal has been praised for preventing a repeat of the surge of migrants seen into Europe in 2015 that fanned the popularity of the far-right.

Austria and Balkan states prepare for collapse of EU-Turkey deal

Austria said on Monday (7 November) it will meet with its Balkan neighbours to discuss what action they might take if a deal with Turkey aimed at restricting the flow of illegal migrants into the European Union collapses.

‘Ottoman slap’

Several top Twitter accounts – ranging from Germany’s Borussia Dortmund football club, tennis legend Boris Becker, Amnesty International, the French economy ministry and BBC North America – were defaced by pro-Turkey hackers with a message slamming “Nazi Germany” and “Nazi Holland”.

“#NaziGermany. #NaziHolland. This is a small #Ottomanslap for you. See you on #April16. I wrote what? Learn Turkish.”

The message also featured a swastika and was followed by a video showing extracts of Erdoğan speeches.

According to legend, an Ottoman slap was a barehanded technique used in the Ottoman army that was strong enough to kill an opponent on the spot.

Twitter confirmed the attack. There was no immediate claim for the current mass cyberattack.

Turkish author: 'Turkey is at war with itself'

Turkish writer Hakan Günday told EURACTIV Spain that the ongoing dispute between Turkey and The Netherlands is a reflection of Ankara’s relationship with the EU in general and that the country has been “at war with itself for a long time”.

‘Outcome not so sure’

Turkey has suspended high-level relations with The Netherlands and blocked its ambassador – currently outside the country – from returning to his post.

Many in The Netherlands – a country bombed and occupied by the Nazis in World War II – were hugely offended by Erdoğan’s comment that the country still had “vestiges of the Nazis”.

Analysts believe Erdoğan is exploiting the crisis to bring out nationalist votes and ensure victory in the 16 April referendum on the new constitution that opponents fear will create one-man rule in Turkey.

Jean Marcou, professor at Sciences Po Grenoble in France, said the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) was deliberately playing up the row as it was “not so sure of the result on April 16.”

New Turkey reform could see Erdogan stay in power until 2029

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has approved a constitutional reform bill that would vastly strengthen the powers of his office and a referendum on the issue is likely on 16 April, officials said today (10 February).

Erdoğan Tuesday angered The Hague by bringing up the Srebrenica massacre of 1995, where Dutch UN peacekeepers failed to prevent the killing of 8,000 Bosnian Muslims by Bosnian Serbs.

On Wednesday he went further, accusing the Netherlands of massacring over 8,000 Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica.

“They have nothing to do with civilisation,” Erdoğan said in a new onslaught against the Netherlands. “They are the ones who massacred over 8,000 Bosnian Muslims.”

Erdoğan, whose country has for half a century tried to join the EU in an agonisingly slow process, said Europe after World War II claimed they “turned a new page for themselves and for the world” by forming the EU.

But he said: “They have emptied the European Union from inside with their attitude toward us.”

Erdogan angers Dutch with Srebrenica jibe

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan prompted a fresh outcry in The Netherlands yesterday (14 February) with a jibe about the Srebrenica massacre, warning of retaliation in a spiralling diplomatic crisis.