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Berlin-Ankara tensions: Nazi comparison 'a red line' for Germany

German Foreign Secretary Sigmar Gabriel leaves a press conference in Berlin, Wednesday [AFP]

Date of publication: 8 March, 2017

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Germany and Turkey are locked in a diplomatic spat after a number of German local authorities banned Turkish referendum rallies last week sparking an angry response from Turkish officials

Seeking to calm a growing diplomatic storm German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said on Tuesday that Germany and Turkey must work towards restoring ties, while warning Ankara that any comparison to Nazis constitutes a "red line that cannot be crossed".

Ankara and Berlin have become locked in a quarrel following a ban levelled by a number of German local authorities preventing Turkish referendum rallies, set to be attended by Turkish ministers, from taking place.

Addressing a rally in Ankara on Sunday Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told gatherers that the bans were "not different from the Nazi practices of the past", causing outrage in Germany.

Gabriel met with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu on Tuesday in an effort to ease tensions.

Following the meeting Gabriel said that he "made clear that comparisons between Nazi-era and the cancellation of rallies or rule of law in Germany is forbidden".

"Both sides have the responsibility to simply not cross certain red lines, and comparisons to Nazi Germany is one of them," said Gabriel, adding that the only way to restore ties was through dialogue.

For his part, speaking on Wednesday Cavusoglu said he expected to host his German counterpart Sigmar Gabriel "as soon as possible", to follow up on their meeting.

Relations between Ankara and Berlin have been strained since last year’s failed 15 July military coup in Turkey.

Authorities in Berlin are demanding the release of Deniz Yucel, a German journalist with Die Welt detained in Istanbul over reports written in the aftermath of the attempted coup, in a wave of far ranging crackdowns that have been criticised by rights groups, and by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Meanwhile Ankara has demanded that Berlin extradite alleged supporters of Fethullah Gulen - who Turkish officials say was the mastermind of the coup attempt. This request that has been been turned down by German officials.

The Erdogan government have also been angered by Germany’s official recognition of the Armenian genocide last year.

Around 1.4 million of the three million people of Turkish descent in Germany are eligible to vote in Turkey's 16 April referendum in a vote in which Erdogan is seeking to expand his presidential powers.

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