Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has warned the European Union (EU) that if the diplomatic spat between Turkey and several European countries continues, Europeans won’t be able to walk their own streets safely.
President Erdoğan made the comments Wednesday in what is another increase of tensions between Turkey and the EU that began when Germany and the Netherlands banned several Turkish ministers from holding campaign rallies for the upcoming Turkish referendum. Erdoğan has threatened Europe before, but this time he threatened the safety of Europeans if the row continues, Die Welt reports.
“If you continue to behave like this, not a single European, not a single Westerner will be able to take a step on the road safely anytime in the world,” Erdoğan said at a press conference adding: “We as Turkey are calling on Europe to respect human rights and democracy.”
Erdoğan did not go into specifics of the threat, though many Turks living in countries like Germany and the Netherlands have expressed massive support for him following the failed coup attempt last year.
Shortly after the coup, tens of thousands of Turkish expats attended a rally in Cologne, Germany, to express support for Erdoğan. On the night two Turkish ministers were refused entry in the Netherlands earlier in March, hundreds of Turks flooded the streets of Rotterdam and rioted.
Following the actions of the Netherlands, Erdoğan and his government have suspended high-level diplomatic relations with the Dutch and even accused the country of being complicit in the Srebrenica massacre calling them “Nazi remnants“.
Germany has also seen heated rhetoric from Ankara and pro-Erdoğan Turkish press who depicted German Chancellor Angela Merkel as a Nazi on the cover of newspaper Gunes.
Many in Europe are concerned what effect the row will have on the migrant deal made between the EU and Turkey last year. The deal rapidly slowed the number of migrants crossing from Turkey to Greece from hundreds a day to dozens.
The Turks have made it clear that the deal is on the table and have threatened to scrap it and send 15,000 migrants a month to Europe.
Erdoğan said the political bloc can “forget about” the migrant deal and that it is, for all intents and purposes, dead. The Turkish government has threatened the deal before when Ankara became frustrated with the lack of visa-free access to the bloc for Turkish citizens.
More troubling has been a recent report that showed an abnormal increase in the number of migrant arrivals over the past week. Some have attributed the rise in sea landings to improved weather conditions, while others question whether this may be the first signs of the end of the migrant deal.