Chancellor Angela Merkel said on March 20 that her demand that Turkey cease drawing Nazi comparisons with Germany and its allies applies “without ifs or buts”, and pointed to a government threat last week that it could prevent Turkish politicians from entering the country. Merkel’s comments came after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused her personally of “committing Nazi practices”. Erdoğan’s comments were the latest escalation in a string of comments by Turkish officials drawing Nazi parallels with present-day Germany and the Netherlands in a dispute over restrictions on Turkish ministers campaigning there for an upcoming referendum. Merkel pointed to a Foreign Ministry note sent to Turkey last week allowing Turkish referendum polling stations in Germany, in which Ankara was told that appearances by Turkish politicians must respect the principles of the German constitution, and that Berlin otherwise reserves the right to “take all necessary measures”.
“Hooliganism” will soon be a thing of the past in both Turkish football and Turkish politics, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said March 20 at a symposium on football in Istanbul ahead of the April 16 constitutional referendum, suggesting that “violence” and “coups” would no longer get people anywhere. “As the quality of politics improved, our nation eliminated those who believe in getting power via rigging, cheating, coups, threats, destructive politics and no elections”, the president told the meeting of top football players and administrators. We have still not been able to bring the Olympics to our country; but you know what intrigues we went through then. Even though we deserved it, we were not given the Olympics”, he said.
Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş on March 17 condemned the bombing of a mosque in northern Syria as a “war crime”. An airstrike on a mosque in the village of Al-Jina, located west of Aleppo city, killed 58 people at night of March 16. “This is a crime against humanity, this is a war crime”, Kurtulmuş told reporters in the northwestern province of Çanakkale. “Bombing civilians, people in the mosque, and a house of worship is unacceptable”.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on March 17 the government is “experiencing a problematic process”, and an uncomfortable environment trying to fulfill a visa deal with the EU. “If the EU does not implement visa liberalization, we have three interconnected agreements. The re-admission and immigration agreement. At that time, the other two agreements are, of course, not applied naturally”,Cavuşoglu said at a meeting of business leaders in Anlaya district. Ankara is supposed to readmit all irregular asylum seekers who reach Greek islands from Turkey, according to the read mission agreement signed last March with the EU.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has accused the top EU court of commencing a struggle between the “Christian cross and the Muslim crescent” following a ruling that allows companies to ban staff from wearing visible religious symbols. “Where is the liberty of religion? They have commenced a struggle between the cross and crescent. There is no other explanation than this. I am saying this clearly: Europe is heading toward the days just before World War II”,Erdoğan said March 16 at a rally in Sakarya. The European Court of Justice ruled on March 14 to allow companies to ban employees from wearing the Islamic headscarf, “but only as part of prohibitions including other religious and political symbols”.
Turkey will intensify its efforts against racism, Islamophobia and xenophobia on all international platforms, especially at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) as Turkey’s government is currently the term president, President RecepTayyipErdoğan said March 14. “This matter is not a matter merely for Turkey. This fascism that shows its dirty face is negatively impacting all Muslims and foreigners living in Europe”, he said at a Doctor’s Day meeting. Erdoğan called on Turks, Muslims and foreigners living in Germany and the Netherlands not to vote for parties that espouse anti-Turkey policies. In a new attack against the Dutch in their spat, Erdoğan also held the Netherlands responsible for Europe’s worst mass killing since World War II.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has been investigating an Islamic State Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) cell known as the “Dokumacılar” since a suicide attack killed two U.S. citizens and two others on Istanbul’s İstiklal Avenue on March 19, 2016, according to revelations from a case file at the Istanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office. Five suspects from the attack were put on trial by the Istanbul 23rd Court of Serious Crimes in connection with the attack.
A local court in southern Turkey adjourned trial of more than 40 suspects alleged to attempt to assassinate President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during the failed July 2016 coup attempt. The “assassination team” accused of targeting Erdogan was among 44 suspects appearing. They had all been jailed pending trial. Judge Emirşah Baştoğ ruled that concrete evidence were available with criminal reports, autopsy papers and footages. The court rejected the demand for the release of all suspects and adjourned the trial to April 24. The first hearing was on Feb 20. The suspects have been accused of being part of the “assassination team” targeting Erdogan.
Family Minister FatmaBetülSayan Kaya returned to Turkey on March 12 after Dutch police escorted her back to Germany, after she had been barred from entering the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam amid an escalating row between the two countries. Thousands of protesters waving Turkish flags gathered outside the Rotterdam consulate, demanding to welcome the minister while protests also erupted in Istanbul and Ankara in front of the Dutch diplomatic missions which had been sealed off after the Dutch move. Dutch police later used water cannon and horses to break up the protests following the minister’s leave.
The state-run Anadolu Agency has reported that in anti-ISIL operations were caught 957 militants. In an operation in the province of Bursa were caught 13 militants linked with the attack on a nightclub in the 1st of January. in Gaziantep were detained four suspects who were planning deadly attacks. Turkish jets have continued to bomb ISIL targets, neutralizing many militants.