German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel (L) meets Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Berlin on March 8, 2017.
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel (L) meets Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Berlin on March 8, 2017.

The spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has criticised Germany and other European nations for barring Turkish officials from campaigning in their countries ahead of a referendum in Turkey on expanding presidential powers.

Thursday's criticism was not new, but it showed that little headway is being made in resolving the issue as Erdogan's emissaries seek to drum up support for the referendum amongst Turkish citizens in Europe.

Speaking in Ankara, spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said "a huge anti-Turkey, anti-Erdogan attitude is being systematically produced and serviced to the world, especially through Germany."

He said the obstacles to rallies reveal a "tragicomedy" on attitudes towards the Turkish government and a meddling in Turkey's upcoming referendum on constitutional changes.

Kalin argued that campaigners, including the "PKK and other terror organisations" rallying for a "no" vote in the referendum can meet freely, but Turkish politicians cannot campaign for a "yes" vote.

"This is a worrying picture for Europe's future and fundamental values," the spokesman said.

Earlier, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Germany was taking sides in Turkey's upcoming referendum and that it was a "grave mistake."

Yildirim said Germany "may be disturbed" that a "yes" vote is likely on the referendum. He says if that's true, it amounts to "meddling" in another country's affairs and is "very wrong."

Tensions have been running high between the two NATO allies after the arrest of a German-Turkish journalist in Turkey and the cancellation of rallies by Turkish ministers aimed at building support for the April 16 referendum.

Yildirim on Thursday said the cancellation of the rallies was a setback in Turkish-German relations.

"We have been disappointed by the attitude adopted by Germany in the process ahead of the referendum. So if they have any feeling of disillusionment, we have even more than they have."

He said "the way forward of course, doesn't involve any more public statements, the way forward is: Germany should take steps to lift the restrictions that we are currently facing in terms of access we have to the millions of Turkish voters living in those countries."

Following the cancellations of rallies by German authorities last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Germany of "fascist actions" reminiscent of the Nazi era.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday said the comments were "sad and incredibly misplaced" and "not justifiable."

Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Thursday pointed out that, "Turkey is not calling the current German government Nazi, but their practises are reminiscent of that era ... We did not say the current German administration is Nazi, we actually said that their practises are evocative of Nazi practises."

The Netherlands and Austria have also announced they will not let Turkish government officials hold mass meetings with Turkish citizens living in their countries.

Foreign minister to visit European countries against Turkish rallies

Meanwhile, Turkey's foreign minister is going ahead with a visit to the Netherlands, despite the ban there on referendum rallies.

Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey will not succumb to"fascists and racists" like Dutch nationalist politician Geert Wilders.

He said he would go ahead with his plans to hold a campaign rally in Rotterdam on March 11, just days before an election in the Netherlands on March 15, that could give the far right a much greater say in the country's future.

"I'll go there on Saturday and hold my (campaign) meeting," the state-run Anadolu Agency quoted him as saying. "Even if you cancel the halls, I will find a place."

Source: TRTWorld and agencies