The European Union has summoned Turkey's permanent ambassador to the bloc following controversial remarks from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan about the safety of European citizens.

"We would like to receive an explanation regarding the comment by President Erdogan concerning the safety of the Europeans on the streets in the world," EU spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic told the Associated Press.

In a speech delivered on 22 March, a few hours before a terror attack in London, Erdogan warned that Europe's attitude towards Turkey would have repercussions.

"Turkey is not a country you can pull and push around, not a country whose citizens you can drag on the ground," Erdogan said at the event for Turkish journalists in Ankara, shown live on national television and quoted by Reuters.

He added: "If Europe continues this way, no European in any part of the world can walk safely on the streets. Europe will be damaged by this. We, as Turkey, call on Europe to respect human rights and democracy."

The remarks, which some interpreted as a threat, follow a series of attacks from the Turkish president towards the Netherlands and Germany, which were compared to the Nazi regime. This came after the countries imposed restrictions on Turkish ministers holding rallies in support of a constitutional referendum on 16 April aimed to give Erdogan greater powers.

Germany's Frank-Walter Steinmeier repeated Chancellor Angela Merkel's calls for an end to the "unspeakable Nazi comparisons" in his first speech as president on 22 March. He warned Turkey: "The way we look (at Turkey) is characterised by worry, that everything that has been built up over years and decades is collapsing."

Despite its unfortunately-timed words, Erdogan expressed solidarity to the British people in the wake of the deadly attack on Westminster.

"I strongly condemn the terror attack in London. The Turkish people share the pain of the United Kingdom," he wrote in a string of tweets in both Turkish and English. "I extend my sympathies to the victims' families and the British people. I wish a speedy recovery to those who were injured. We stand in solidarity with the UK, our friend and ally, against terrorism, the greatest threat to global peace and security."