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EU's Ashton says Erdoğan's Zionism remarks unacceptable

“I do not know what he really said. What I can say is remarks attributed to him [Erdoğan] are unacceptable,” said Ashton on Monday in response to a question by a journalist on Erdoğan's comments during a press conference following a summit of EU foreign ministers in Brussels. Ashton added that such comments were unacceptable for the EU now or ever. During the UN Alliance of Civilizations conference in late February, Erdoğan had complained of prejudices against Muslims and said Islamophobia should be considered a crime against humanity “just like Zionism, like anti-Semitism and fascism.” Erdoğan's remarks received a barrage of criticism from the White House, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Israel after a video recording of the speech was published by a Geneva-based nongovernmental organization, UN Watch. US Secretary of State John Kerry, whose recent visit to Turkey came in the midst of Erdoğan's comments, also responded to the controversial remarks, saying the US does not share the same point of view with regard to Erdoğan's remarks. "We not only disagree with it, we found it objectionable," Kerry added.

Kerry stressed the "urgent need to promote a spirit of tolerance, and that includes all of the public statements made by all leaders."

Ashton's criticism came two weeks after Erdoğan's comments when the 20 European Parliament members sent the EU foreign policy chief a letter urging her to formally condemn the remarks by the Turkish prime minister.

"We condemn this statement in no uncertain terms and call on you to do the same," stated the letter to Ashton from European Parliament members.

The 20 parliamentarians who signed the letter include representatives of Poland, Britain, Holland, Romania, Finland, Hungary, Denmark, Germany, Belgium and Spain.

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