BRUSSELS: The EU today summoned the Turkish envoy to explain President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's warning that Europeans risk being unsafe on the world's streets. "We have asked actually the Turkish permanent delegate to the EU to come... as we would like to receive an explanation with regard to the comments by President Erdogan concerning the safety of Europeans on the streets of the world," EU foreign affairs spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said.
His remarks were made just hours before an attack outside the British parliament yesterday in which a car deliberately ran down pedestrians then the driver leapt out and stabbed a police officer, killing three people before being shot dead. In a speech in Ankara earlier in the day, Erdogan appeared to imply that Europeans risked receiving the same treatment he claims is endured by Turks and Muslims in Europe, though he did not elaborate.
"If you continue to behave like this, tomorrow in no part of the world, no European, no Westerner will be able to take steps on the street safely and peacefully," Erdogan said. Asked whether, in the wake of the London attack, the EU would ask Erdogan to stop making such comments, a European Commission spokesman declined to comment.
"Hours after the tragic events (in London), we are all very cautious on expressing value judgements, comments and generalisations at this very sensitive juncture," spokesman Margaritis Schinas said. Relations between Turkey and Europe have been severely strained since Turkish ministers were thwarted from campaigning on the continent for a 'yes' vote in next month's referendum on expanding Erdogan's powers.
Ankara has said such behaviour was reminiscent of Nazi Germany and also raised alarm over what it sees as rising racism and Islamophobia. Erdogan warned Europe that Turkey was "not a country to push, to prod, to play with its honour, to shove its ministers out of the door, drag its citizens on the floor."