BERLIN - The head of the European Parliament sharply criticized Turkey's Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday for protesting against a satirical song on German television that mocked the president just as the EU needs Ankara to help solve its migrant crisis.
The broadcast and Turkey's response has morphed into a diplomatic incident with Germany, France and the EU rejecting Ankara's protests, which included Germany's ambassador being to the Turkish foreign ministry.
The two-minute song, shown on "extra 3" last month, poked fun at Erdogan for his authoritarian treatment of journalists.
The spat is particularly awkward for German Chancellor Angela Merkel who led efforts to get a migrant deal between the EU and Turkey. Critics question whether the deal will make Germany and the EU go soft on Turkish human rights because they are so dependent on Ankara to stem the influx of migrants.
In unusually strong language, European Parliament President Martin Schulz said it was "not acceptable that the president of another country demanded Germany limits democratic rights because he felt caricatured".
"We must make clear to Erdogan: we have democracy in our country. That's the end of it ... politicians must live with satire, even the Turkish president," Schulz, a Social Democrat, told Bild am Sonntag.
"Dear Mr Erdogan, you have gone one step too far. You can't do this. Satire is a basic element of democratic culture."