President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that Europeans would not be able to walk safely on the streets if they kept up their current attitude towards Turkey, his latest salvo in a row over campaigning by Turkish politicians in Europe.
Turkey has been embroiled in a dispute with Germany and the Netherlands over campaign appearances by Turkish officials seeking to drum up support for an April 16 referendum that could boost Erdogan's powers. Ankara has accused its European allies of using "Nazi methods" by banning Turkish ministers from addressing rallies in Europe over security concerns. The comments have led to a sharp deterioration in ties with the European Union, which Turkey still aspires to join.
"Turkey is not a country you can pull and push around, not a country whose citizens you can drag on the ground," Erdogan said at an event for Turkish journalists in Ankara, in comments broadcast live on national television.
"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," he said.
Germany's Frank-Walter Steinmeier used his first speech as president on Wednesday to warn Erdogan that he risked destroying everything his country had achieved in recent years, and that he risked damaging diplomatic ties.