Europe

German minister: Erdogan rhetoric causing significant damage

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters in Antalya, Turkey, Saturday, March 25, 2017. Erdogan on Friday has hit out at the head of Germany's intelligence service for comments suggesting that Berlin was not convinced over U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen's role in Turkey's failed coup. Erdogan accused the BND foreign intelligence chief Bruno Kahl of making the remarks on behalf of Germany's leaders, whom he said backed Gulen's movement.(Kayhan Ozer/Presidential Press Service, Pool Photo via AP)

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters in Antalya, Turkey, Saturday, March 25, 2017. Erdogan on Friday has hit out at the head of Germany's intelligence service for comments suggesting that Berlin was not convinced over U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen's role in Turkey's failed coup. Erdogan accused the BND foreign intelligence chief Bruno Kahl of making the remarks on behalf of Germany's leaders, whom he said backed Gulen's movement.(Kayhan Ozer/Presidential Press Service, Pool Photo via AP)  (The Associated Press)

A senior German official says Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's rhetoric in the standoff with European countries ahead of his country's April 16 referendum is causing damage that will take years to repair.

Erdogan has accused Germany, and Chancellor Angela Merkel, of "committing Nazi practices" after some local authorities blocked appearances by Turkish ministers hoping to campaign in Germany for a presidential system at home.

He has aimed similar accusations at the Netherlands. Both countries have large Turkish minorities.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper that "Erdogan's rhetoric leaves me speechless."

He was quoted Sunday as saying that Erdogan is "willfully destroying in a short time" years of progress on integration.

Schaeuble added that "repairing the damage that is being done now will take years."