Merkel says does not intend to trade provocations with Turkey

BERLIN:  German Chancellor Angela Merkel ruled out trading provocations with Turkey on Thursday after President Tayyip Erdogan sharply criticised bans on planned rallies by Turkish ministers in Germany and the Netherlands.

Erdogan's mounting criticism of the two countries, part of a drive to win support among Turks living abroad for a referendum to widen his powers, has strained Ankara's ties with European capitals concerned about what they see as an increasingly authoritarian and insulting tone from Turkey.

Merkel told regional newspaper Saarbruecker Zeitung that Erdogan's accusation this week that she supported terrorists from the Kurdish PKK militant group was absurd.

"I don't intend to participate in this race to trade provocations," she said. Referring to his attacks on the Netherlands, she added: "The insults need to stop."

Erdogan has accused Germany of "fascist actions" for cancelling several planned rallies by his cabinet ministers and has branded the Netherlands "Nazi remnants" for banning a rally in Rotterdam at the weekend.

Merkel has hit back at Erdogan for the Nazi comparisons, saying they are "unworthy" both of the close ties the two countries share and of their people.

She reiterated that Turkish politicians wanting to make appearances in Germany needed to openly disclose who wanted to appear and for what purpose and then stick to the laws and principles of Germany's constitution.

"Furthermore, we're looking at the situation afresh every day and are not giving anyone a carte blanche for the future," she said.