Europe’s “masquerade ball’ is over, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has told the continent following his most recent spat with domestic and foreign enemies, slamming countries such as Germany and the Netherlands for banning Turkish ministers from conducting constitutional amendment campaigns. “What has been happening in Europe lately shows that the struggle against my country and against our struggle has passed to a new stage. Those who tried to come at us with their men, with the terrorists that they support and gave guns to, with the spies they bought with a dollar, are now in the field. My brothers and sisters, the masquerade ball is over”. Erdoğan accused European countries of supporting the political campaigns of the opposition to constitutional amendments that will usher in an executive presidency with near-unencumbered powers for himself.
The European Union will assess planned constitutional changes in Turkey in light of the country’s status as a candidate for membership in the 28-member bloc. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have both said the referendum is needed to stabilize the country, though several European politicians have criticized his approach. The dispute also led to problems in a Turkey-EU deal on immigrants that includes European aid to Turkey for migrants in exchange for a readmission agreement to cut the flow of migrants to the continent from Turkey. Separately, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said on March 12 that it was difficult to continue working with Turkey on economic aid because of a row over Turkish ministers campaigning in EU countries and the arrest of a German-Turkish journalist in Turkey.