Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Continuing the fiery rhetoric of the Turkish government towards the EU today, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told fellow Turks living in Europe that they were the continent’s future and that they must stake a claim to it.
Campaigning in the Central Anatolian city of Eskişehir for the passage of a referendum which would grant his office decisive new powers, Erdoğan addressed Europe’s millions strong Turkish population, an estimated five million of whom will be eligible to vote in the April 16th constitutional referendum.
“The place in which you are living and working is now your homeland and new motherland. Stake a claim to it. Open more businesses, enroll your children in better schools, make your family live in better neighborhoods, drive the best cars, live in the most beautiful houses,” Erdoğan exhorted in front of a large crowd of flag-waving supporters.
“That’s because you are the future of Europe. It will be the best answer to the vulgarism, antagonism, and injustice made against you”, Erdoğan continued, making reference to the recent cancellation of Turkish political rallies in Europe and the March 14th decision by the EU Court of Justice to allow for the prohibition of the Islamic headscarf in the workplace.
In perhaps the most controversial comments of the hour-long address, Islamist Erdoğan called on Turks resident in Europe to have larger families than in Turkey, in order that they inherit their future on the continent.
“I am calling out to my citizens, my brothers and sisters in Europe,” Erdoğan implored, “Have not just three but five children.”
The bellicose words come only a day after Erdoğan alluded to a European crusade against Islam, and a warning from his foreign minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, on the outbreak of religious wars in the fracturing EU – dramatic talk which plays well with the Turkish media.
Yesterday’s threat by Erdoğan to scrap an agreement with the EU – which could see up to three million migrants head for Europe – was last night followed by a statement from the country’s Interior Minister, Süleyman Soylu, who toyed with the idea of releasing 15,000 migrants a month into Europe to shock his EU counterparts.
Although many Western Europeans vacation in Turkey and relations have generally been amicable in recent times, the Islamic conquest of Europe by the Ottoman Turks – which cast a brutal shadow over the continent for five centuries – remains a strong folk memory, particularly in the Balkans, Eastern and Central Europe.
The tone from Ankara will do little for Turkish – European relations, particularly as voters in many European countries, weary of the negative consequences of mass immigration, move further to the right.