Nick Gutteridge, Express, March 23, 2017
Eurocrats have reacted with fury after the president issued an extraordinary warning this week that European Union citizens will no longer be safe because of the bloc’s treatment of him.
The extremely dangerous speech has been interpreted by some as an open invitation for Turks living across the globe, but particularly within Europe, to carry out terrorist attacks.
And officials in Brussels have been so alarmed by the remarks that they have today taken the rare step of summoning the Turkish ambassador to the EU for a dressing down.
President Erdogan has become increasingly authoritarian and extremist in his rhetoric over recent months as he attempts to install himself as an all-powerful dictator in Ankara.
He said: “Turkey is not a country you can pull and push around, not a country whose citizens you can drag on the ground.
“If Europe continues this way, no European in any part of the world can walk safely on the streets. Europe will be damaged by this.
“We, as Turkey, call on Europe to respect human rights and democracy.”
The remarks drew a furious response from senior EU officials, who are becoming increasingly alarmed by the erratic and unhinged behaviour of the Turkish president.
EU Commission spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said: “On these specific comments we have actually asked the Turkish permanent delegate to the EU to come to the EEAS today to meet with the responsible managing director.
“We would like to receive an explanation with regard to the comments by president Erdogan concerning the safety of Europeans on the streets of the world.”
The European External Action Service (EEAS) is the EU’s diplomatic wing and is responsible for managing the bloc’s relations with all its international partners.
However, asked about the risk that the outburst could incite terrorist attacks in Europe officials in Brussels were more reticent, saying it was too soon to comment after yesterday’s attacks in London.
Commission chief spokesman Margaritis Chinas said: “Hours after the tragic events we are all very cautious on expressing value judgements, comments and generalisations at this very sensitive junction.”
Mr Erdogan’s comments came just hours before a homegrown Islamist terrorist struck in the heart of the British capital killing four people outside parliament, although there is no suggestion of a link to the attack.
The despot has been infuriated by the decision of several European countries, taken independently of the EU, to ban planned rallies where his ministers were going to whip up support amongst Turkish expats.
He has called a referendum on constitutional reform which could keep him in power until 2029 but needs the support of millions of ethnic Turkish voters in Europe to tip the knife-edge contest.
Earlier this month the Netherlands refused to allow a planned rally of Erdogan supporters and booted out one of his ministers when she tried to defy the order, prompting a furious response from Ankara.
President Erdogan accused European nations of acting like “Nazis” and threatened once more to tear up his migrant pact with the EU in comments which provoked consternation in Brussels.