Tayyip Erdogan.jpg
Photograph: EPA/OLIVIER HOSLET

The office of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday that comments he made comparing his push for an executive-style presidency to the powers held by Nazi Germany's Adolf Hitler have been "distorted" by the media.

His office was responding to a torrent of criticism from inside and outside of Turkey after Erdogan said a day earlier that he would like to see a presidential system adopted within Turkey's existing unitary structure - and cited Hitler's regime as an example.

"There are examples of this around the world. There are examples in the past, too. When you look at Hitler's Germany, you can see it there," he told reporters, according to the mass-circulation Zaman newspaper.

The Turkish leader, who has been the domineering player in the country's politics for more than a decade, has frequently called for his powers to be expanded.

Erdogan's office said in a statement that it was "unacceptable" to cast his remarks as a "positive reference to Hitler's Germany," and noted the president's past condemnation of the Holocaust and anti-Semitism.

That statement said Erdogan only meant to suggest that a presidential-style system can exist in a unitary state with a strong centralized government and in one based on a system of federalism.

"If the system is abused it may lead to bad management resulting in disasters as in Hitler's Germany ... The important thing is to pursue fair management that serves the nation," the statement said, according to Zaman.

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