Hansjoerg Haber altered an old German proverb to describe how the EU migrant deal had run into trouble. His remarks were criticized by the Ankara government.
The faux-pas happened when Haber, who heads the EU delegation in Turkey, described how a plan to ease visa restrictions for Turks traveling to Europe had started off in an orderly way but run into problems recently, the newspaper Hurriyet reported.
"We have a proverb - 'start off like a Turk and finish like a German.' But the reverse has happened here. It started off like a German and is finishing like a Turk," he told journalists last Friday.
Turkey's EU Affairs Minister Volkan Bozkir called on Haber to explain what he meant, adding that his comments were not appropriate for an ambassador.
"No ambassador has the right to humiliate the people of the country he is in and say something about its president. This is the first rule of diplomacy," he tweeted last week.
Haber was later informed that his comments had caused "indignation." A foreign ministry source added:"We have conveyed the anger felt over the ambassador's comments to him, and that we condemn the expressions he used."
Turkey and the EU have been discussing visa liberalization since 2013 and agreed in March to go ahead with it as part of a deal to halt waves of illegal immigration from Turkey to the EU.
The disputed migration deal includes funding to help Turkey care for migrants who had hoped to use its shores to take boats to Greece.
But progress on the deal stopped when Brussels insisted that Ankara must also reform its tough anti-terror laws before further talks on EU membership for Turkey could resume. Ankara, which is battling Kurdish and "Islamic State" militants, said that was out of the question.
The deal has also been thrown into doubt by the departure in the coming days of Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu who had championed the accord.
A separate row blew up last month when German comedian Jan Böhmermann faced legal action by Recep Tayyip Erdogan over a poem he wrote about the Turkish leader.
mm/rc (AFP, Reuters)