March 18, 2017 - 10:44 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday, March 17 urged Turks resident in Europe to have five children, telling the millions-strong diaspora they were the continent's "future" as a bitter dispute festered between Ankara and Brussels, AFP reports.
Turkey and Europe are locked in diplomatic crisis after Germany and the Netherlands blocked Turkish ministers from campaigning for a 'yes' vote in next month's referendum on expanding Erdogan's powers.
Erdogan has repeatedly accused EU states of behaving like Nazi Germany over what he sees as discrimination against Turks, in comments that have caused outrage across the continent.
"From here I say to my citizens, I say to my brothers and sisters in Europe... Educate your children at better schools, make sure your family live in better areas, drive in the best cars, live in the best houses," said Erdogan.
"Have five children, not three. You are Europe's future."
"This is the best answer to the rudeness shown to you, the enmity, the wrongs," he said in a televised speech in Eskisehir, a city south of Istanbul.
Some 2.5 million Turkish citizens resident in Europe are eligible to vote in elections in their homeland. But millions more people living in EU states have Turkish origins.
Erdogan, a father of four, has previously urged women in Turkey to have at least three children to help boost the population, in comments denounced by women's rights activists.