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Turkey summons German envoy after top lawmaker calls Erdoğan ‘sewer rat’

Turkey’s foreign ministry summoned the German ambassador to Ankara on Tuesday after the Bundestag’s vice president compared Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to a “sewer rat.”

“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, adding that the “indecent” remarks demonstrated “Kubicki’s political and moral level and reveal his banality.”

Kubicki was campaigning for his liberal Free Democratic Party, a junior member of the ruling German coalition, in Lower Saxony on Monday when he told supporters Germany should not “just open its arms again” to a potential new wave of refugees arriving in the country, which he said could happen because of “Erdoğan, the sewer rat.”

Kubicki later told Reuters he made these remarks in reference to rising numbers of undocumented migrants moving from Turkey along the so-called Balkan route toward Germany, while adding that “a sewer rat is a small, cute, but at the same time clever and crafty creature that also appears in children’s stories,” such as in the movie “Ratatouille.”

At the same event Monday, Kubicki also rejected calls from other members of his party for Germany to make rapid and comprehensive arms deliveries to Ukraine, asking: “When will the point come when Putin sees us as a war party?”

Kubicki is known for his provocative statements and for taking what is perceived as a softer stance on Russia. Last month, he called for the reactivation of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline between Russia and Germany after Berlin shut it down due to the Ukraine invasion, which sparked strong criticism from within his own party.

Insulting the president is a criminal offense in Turkey and Ankara has a history of reacting strongly to negative comments about its president from abroad: In 2016, Ankara filed two legal complaints against German comedian Jan Böhmermann, after he read a crude poem on his TV show insulting Erdoğan.

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