Turkey summons German ambassador over senior politician likening Erdoğan to ‘sewer rat’

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday summoned the German ambassador to Ankara over comments made by a senior German politician likening President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to a “little sewer rat,” Artı Gerçek news site reported.

“We condemn in the strongest terms the insulting statements made by Mr. Wolfgang Kubicki, the Vice President of the Federal Parliament of Germany, about our President,” the Turkish ministry said in a statement.

The “indecent” remarks demonstrate “Kubicki’s political and moral level and reveal his banality,” it added.

Kubicki made the comment during an election campaign rally in a bid to draw attention to a rise in the number of illegal migrants moving from Turkey along the “Balkan route” toward Germany, Reuters reported.

“A sewer rat is a small, cute, but at the same time clever and crafty creature that also appears in children’s stories,” Kubicki, a lawmaker from the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP), said.

Kubicki told the agency that Erdoğan had struck a good deal for Turkey when he agreed  to stem migration and refugee flows to Greece and thus Europe for 6 billion euros.

“But at the same time we must note that the wave of refugees along the Balkan route (from Turkey) is again increasing, which is a challenge for German foreign and domestic policy,” the German lawmaker said.

Turkey has been a candidate to join the EU since 1999, but its accession talks have been stalled over a number of issues, including the country’s human rights record.

According to Article 299 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), insulting the president is a crime and carries a maximum sentence of four years in prison.

Investigations and convictions under Article 299 have catapulted since Erdoğan became president in 2014. Lawsuits over the crime of insulting the president have increased by 9,000 percent since 2010, according to a 2021 report based on Justice Ministry data.

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