Turkish President Recep Erdogan has urged all Turks living in Europe to have at least five children, saying they are the future of the continent and that it would be the best response to the “injustices” imposed on expatriates there.
“Go live in better neighborhoods. Drive the best cars. Live in the best houses. Make not three, but five children. Because you are the future of Europe. That will be the best response to the injustices against you,” Erdogan said in the city of Eskisehir on Friday, according to AP.
The comments were made while the Turkish president was campaigning for a ‘yes’ vote in an upcoming constitutional referendum that would grant him sweeping new powers.
It is the latest in an ongoing string of comments aimed at Europe after Turkish ministers were prevented from holding campaign rallies there.
The Netherlands has bore the brunt of the criticisms, after it prevented the ministers from addressing a crowd in Rotterdam on Sunday, and later used water cannons to disperse Turkish demonstrators in the city.
Since then, Erdogan has hurled a string of insults at the European country, including accusing it of state terrorism, acting like “Nazi remnants,” and having a “rotten” character.
However, the president is not the only government official who has made his distaste for the Dutch known.
The country’s interior minister, Suleyman Soylu, said late Thursday that the EU is “playing games” to prevent Ankara from becoming strong, suggesting that Turkey could send 15,000 refugees a month to Europe to “blow its mind.” The minister singled out both the Netherlands and Germany, as three German states previously cancelled scheduled rallies.
Also on Thursday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu warned that Europe is headed for “wars of religion,” claiming Dutch politicians are taking the continent “to a cliff.”
In an effort to achieve a ‘yes’ vote in the referendum, Erdogan is heavily relying on support from the 5.5 million Turkish citizens living abroad.
If the legislation goes ahead, it would give the president the power to issue decrees, declare emergency rule, appoint ministers and state officials, and dissolve parliament.
Critics of the move say the success of the referendum would abolish the country’s system of checks and balances.