Bonn Criticizes Yilmaz Over EU Comments

BONN (Reuters)–The German government on Monday rejected commen’s by Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz accusing Chancellor Helmut Kohl of damaging relations between Bonn and Ankara.

Yilmaz has launched a series of verbal attacks on Bonn since the European Union ruled out admitting Turkey as a new member late last year.

He said Kohl was primarily to blame–saying the EU’s exclusion of Turkey was an "historical mistake."

Deputy government spokesman Herbert Schmuelling told a regular government news conference that Yilmaz’s commen’s did not reflect the current state of diplomatic relations and vowed that ties would not be soured by the row.

"This has more to do with Yilmaz’s personal problem. The traditionally good relations between German and Turkey will not be damaged by this," Schmuelling said.

"Yilmaz should know that he is damaging the good relationship (we have) with the 2.5 million Turks living in Germany," he added–referring to the country’s largest ethnic minority.

Last month Yilmaz outraged Bonn by comparing German foreign policy with Nazi leader Adolf Hitler’s "Lebensraum" doctrine of grabbing land for settlement in eastern Europe.

"He who made the mistake must fix it. And that’s the German government," Yilmaz told a German newspaper–Bild am Sonntag–in an interview on Sunday–pointing the finger at Kohl and his government.

"It (the government) has done everything to ruin relations between Turkey and Germany."

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