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Luxembourg: Turkey purge comparable to Nazi tactics

November 7, 2016

Jean Asselborn has said that sanctions against Turkey may be in the cards if Ankara's purge of civil servants continues. He compared the government's strategy to Nazi Germany.

Luxemburg Außenminister Jean Asselborn
Image: Getty Images/AFP/J. Thys

Luxembourg's top diplomat compared the Turkish authorities to Nazis on Monday as Ankara's post-coup attempt crackdown showed no sign of abating. Over 110,000 civil servants, academics, and journalists have lost their jobs since the July violence that tried to oust President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The dismissed employees are listed in an official registry which functions as a kind of blacklist making it hard for them to find new employment. Some have also had their passports revoked. Luxembourgish Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn further accused Turkey of revoking some people's university degrees and leaving them destitute.

"To put it bluntly, these are methods that were used during the Nazi era and that's a really, really bad development... that the European Union simply cannot accept," Asselborn said.

The foreign minister suggested implementing economic sanctions against the Turkish government in light of how much Turkey relies on investment from EU countries.

"At a certain point in time, we won't have any choice but to apply [sanctions] to counteract the unbearable human rights situation," he said.

Berlin: No sanctions

But Asselborn will likely find such a thing easier said than done, as Berlin made it clear on Monday that sanctions with the important trading partner were not currently on the table. A spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the government was not participating in any such discussions.

"What we need is a clear and unified European position on the developments in Turkey," Steffen Seibert told a press conference. "We have to make it clear to Turkey what impact the repression of the press and the repression of the opposition will have on its relations with the European Union. That's why it's important to keep the channels of communication open."

USA Fethullah Gülen bei einer Pressekonferenz
Gulen and Erodgan were once allies, before Gulen's opposition to Erdogan's policies forced him into self-imposed exile in PennsylvaniaImage: picture-alliance/dpa/M. Smith

Omer Celik, Turkey's liason to the EU, responded to the situation later on Monday by saying that, contrary to Asselborn's arguments, Ankara was trying to "protect democracy." Celik then referenced Fethullah Gulen, a US-based cleric whom Erdogan has blamed for the coup attempt.

"The Nazis are like apprentices when compared with Gulenist terror organizations... We are talking about an organization that has massacred its own people with warplanes, tanks, warships and helicopters. Nobody should think that we will take a step back in our fight against them."

Despite the back and forth, Turkish officials were hosting a number of EU counterparts in Ankara on Monday to discuss repairing the "fragile" relations between Ankara and the bloc.

es/kms (AFP, dpa, Reuters)