The Turkish presidency on Friday attempted to clarify comments made by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a day earlier in which he appeared to compare his push for a stronger executive branch with Hitler’s rule over Germany.
Turkey’s president is attempting to change the country’s constitution to allow the presidency to be the country’s chief executive, a shift from its historically ceremonial role, the New York Times reports. On Thursday, Erdogan was asked whether that change could exist within Turkey’s “unitary state” and replied by saying: “There are already examples in the world. You can see it when you look at Hitler’s Germany.”
The following day, Erdogan’s office issued a statement saying the comment has been “distorted by media outlets and has been used in the opposite sense,” claiming the president meant to show that an executive can exist without a federal system of government, and that no system can totally protect against abuses of power.
“If the system is abused it may lead to bad management resulting in disasters as in Hitler’s Germany” the statement said, according to Reuters. “The important thing is to pursue fair management that serves the nation.” The statement also said it was unacceptable to suggest Erdogan was referring to Hitler as a positive example.
The Turkish president’s mention of Hitler provoked a tide of criticism from around the world and across social media. The Times highlights one particularly popular tweet which showed Erdogan’s face gradually turning into that of Hitler.