Germany hits back at Turkish PM's Nazi remark

Berlin [Germany], Mar. 6 (ANI): Germany has hit back over Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's remarks in which he likened the cancelation of rallies for German-Turks to "Nazi practices."

According to DW, in an interview with German broadcaster ARD, chief of staff at the chancellery Peter Altmaier, of the Christian Democrats (CDU), described the comparison as "absolutely unacceptable."

"The government will also make this very clear" to Turkey, Altmaier said, adding that "there is absolutely no reason to allow ourselves to be reproached over this."

On Sunday, Erdogan said "Germany! You have nothing to do with democracy. Your recent practices are no different than the Nazi ones of the past," as he lambasted Berlin for barring Turkish ministers from holding public rallies in two German cities ahead of the April 16 referendum in Turkey that would expand the powers of the President.

German Justice Minister and Social Democrat (SPD) Heiko Maas responded on Sunday, telling broadcaster ARD that Erdogan's comments were "absurd, disgraceful and outlandish" and designed to provoke a reaction from Berlin.

Meanwhile, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel (SPD) told the "Bild am Sonntag" newspaper that although Germany values freedom of expression, whoever speaks here "must respect our rules."

Gokay Sofuoglu, the head of the Turkish Community in Germany (TGD), also criticized Erdogan, describing the Turkish leader's comments as a "derailment."

Ties between Ankara and Berlin have been strained in recent months. Turkish leaders have criticized their German counterparts for turning a blind eye to terrorist organizations such as the PKK and FETO, which they say use Germany for their activities targeting Turkey.

Meanwhile, German media and politicians sharply criticized Turkey for the pre-trial detention of Die Welt's Istanbul correspondent Deniz Yucel on charges of terror propaganda.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is also facing calls to ban Erdogan, from entering Germany as Deniz Yucel continues to be held in an Istanbul prison.

Erdogan, who campaigned in Germany in 2011 and 2014, was rumoured to be planning a political rally to secure the symbolically important diaspora vote before April's referendum.

Among Germany's 3 million Turkish community, nearly 1.5 million of them are eligible to vote. They will cast their votes at Turkish consulates in Germany between March 27 and April 9. (ANI)