ANKARA: The Turkish government on Monday warned Europe against falling into the "trap of fascism", as it defended comparisons with Nazi Germany that have angered EU leaders.
"We are hearing the marching steps of fascism and Nazism," Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus told reporters in Ankara after a cabinet meeting.
"Steps need to be taken against that... we are saying these things (to Europe) so they do not fall into the trap of fascism," added Kurtulmus, who is official government spokesman.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had on Sunday told German Chancellor Angela Merkel she was taking "Nazi measures", after German authorities refused to allow Turkish ministers to campaign for a 'yes' vote in an upcoming referendum on expanding his powers.
Germany's Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel branded Erdogan's comments "shocking" and said he had informed Ankara that a "boundary had been crossed here".
But Kurtulmus, speaking after a cabinet meeting at the presidential palace chaired by Erdogan, defended the Nazi comparisons and gave no indication that such rhetoric would stop.
He said that racism was on the rise in Europe and Turkey needed to warn its partners.
"We are making these fascist and Nazi comparisons out of concern for the future of our European friends," he said.
"Europe is our close ally, friend and neighbour and a very bad future is awaiting it.
"Measures must be taken so that they live in friendship with foreigners. We are telling them not to surrender to these fascist and racist discourses," he added.
The current crisis with Europe has raised questions over the future viability of Turkey's bid to join the European Union which has lasted half a century.