Turkish Foreign Minster Mevlut Cavusoglu has lashed out at Austria, calling it the “capital of radical racism” following suggestions by Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern that the European Union end membership talks with Turkey.
European leaders have voiced concern over Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ongoing crackdown following a failed coup attempt last month, warning that reintroduction of the death penalty for coup plotters would be a red line barring Turkey’s accession to the EU.
Chancellor Kern intensified the debate on Wednesday, saying that he would start a discussion among European heads of government to end talks with Turkey because of the country’s democratic and economic deficits.
“We know that the democratic standards are clearly not sufficient to justify (Turkey’s) accession,” Kern said in an interview with Austrian broadcaster ORF.
Cavusoglu hit back on Friday in an interview with broadcaster TGRT Haber, saying the “Austrian chancellor needs to take a look at his own country first”.
“Today Austria is the capital of radical racism,” Cavusoglu said, adding that the chancellor’s comments were “ugly”.
“It is ironic that a country in the middle of a racist stream like this is calling our citizens radicals,” he said.
Cavusoglu focused his attack on the success of far-right political parties in Austria.
“A radical, racist candidate lost the latest election by a hair’s breadth,” he said.
“now that election has cancelled there is a good chance that this candidate is going to get elected.”
Austria’s Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz joined in the verbal sparring, saying Ankara should “moderate its words and actions”.
“Ankara is called upon to moderate its choice of words and its course of action (at home) as well as to do its homework.”
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies