Merkel rejects Erdogan's latest Nazi slur aimed at Netherlands

German Chancellor and head of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) Angela Merkel attends a news conference at the International Trade Fair in Munich, Germany, March 13, 2017. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle

MUNICH, Germany (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel rejected as completely unacceptable comments by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan referring to the Netherlands as “Nazi remnants”, telling a group of business leaders on Monday that remarks invoking the Nazi past were misguided.

Erdogan had branded the Netherlands “Nazi remnants, fascists” on Saturday after the Dutch government withdrew permission for his Foreign Minister to land there.

Rotterdam city authorities had refused to allow him to attend a meeting to rally support for Erdogan’s plans for extended powers which will be put to a referendum next month.

“Germany completely rejects rhetorical and any other comparisons with the National Socialists made by the Turkish president,” Merkel said, adding she had already condemned Nazi analogies he had leveled against Germany in a speech in parliament last week.

“This rejection is also valid for our allies, such as the Netherlands. These comparisons are completely misguided. They trivialize the suffering. Particularly in the Netherlands that endured so much agony through the National Socialists, it’s just completely unacceptable. That’s why the Netherlands can count on my complete support and solidarity on this.”

Erdogan, who survived an army attempt to topple him in July, is working to win the votes of Turks abroad in an April referendum that would give him sweeping new powers. But unease is spreading in Europe over the dispatch of ministers to communities themselves sometimes deeply divided.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Saturday said Erdogan’s remark comparing the Dutch to the Nazis was “way out of line”.

“It’s a crazy remark of course,” Rutte told reporters during campaigning for the March 15 election. “I understand they’re angry, but this of course was way out of line.”

Reporting by Irene Preisinger; writing by Erik Kirschbaum, editing by Ed Osmond