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Monday 26 September 2016

Merkel hits back over attacks by Turkish PM

Justin Huggler

Published 09/06/2016 | 02:30

Rebuke: Angela Merkel. Photo: Axel Schmidt/Reuters
Rebuke: Angela Merkel. Photo: Axel Schmidt/Reuters

Germany has summoned the Turkish chargé d'affaires to protest at an extraordinary series of personal attacks on German MPs by the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

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In a sign of how strained relations between the two allies have become, Angela Merkel publicly rebuked Mr Erdogan over his remarks, describing them as "incomprehensible".

There are fears the row could jeopardise the EU's controversial migrant deal with Turkey, which Mr Erdogan has previously threatened to tear up.

Several German MPs have received death threats since the Turkish leader rounded on them in the wake of last week's historic vote to recognise the Armenian genocide of 1915.

Mr Erdogan accused German MPs of Turkish origin of being "terrorist supporters". He claimed they were "the voice" of the separatist Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK), which he has blamed for recent terror attacks in Turkey.

Outburst

Cem Özdemir, joint leader of the German Green Party, has been placed under police protection, after Mr Erdogan singled him out in a remarkable outburst, reportedly demanding he undergo blood tests to prove his Turkish origins.

"Some say he's a Turk. What a Turk! His blood should be sent for laboratory tests," the Turkish president was quoted as saying.

Ms Merkel's government has reacted furiously.

The Turkish chargé d'affaires was summoned to the foreign ministry this week and told that Mr Erdogan's remarks had been "received with disbelief" in Berlin.

Ms Merkel herself delivered a rare public rebuke to the Turkish leader. "The allegations and statements coming from the Turkish side are incomprehensible," she said.

The "freely elected" German parliament was entitled to a "difference of opinion" with Turkey, she added.

Earlier, her spokesman said that the Bundestag vote was a "sovereign decision" which Turkey "must respect".

"To associate individual members of parliament with terrorism is utterly incomprehensible to us," he said.

Until now, Ms Merkel's government has been muted in its criticism of Turkey, for fear of jeopardising the migrant agreement which she personally negotiated.

But its response to the latest row suggests that Ms Merkel's patience with the Turkish leader may be wearing thin.

Her decision to allow the prosecution of a comedian for insulting Mr Erdogan earlier this year was deeply unpopular in Germany, and opinion polls consistently show an overwhelming majority of Germans want her to take a tougher line with the Turkish president.

Irish Independent

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