No more Turkish rallies in Germany before referendum - organisers
01 April, 2017, 00:06 | Author: Gregory Stephens
In his first speech since taking the largely ceremonial office, Frank-Walter Steinmeier appealed to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to stop comparing German officials with Nazis.
After explicitly saying such campaign appearances were not welcome, The Netherlands simply refused to allow Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu's plane landing rights and expelled another envoy who had travelled in by road.
German media have reported that Erdogan planned to visit Germany this month to rally support for the measure, but Berlin said it had not received a formal request for such a visit. European leaders, in turn, said Erdogan's remarks were unacceptable.
In November previous year, the European Parliament suspended the accession talks with Ankara over concerns regarding human rights and the rule of law following the July 2016 coup attempt against Erdogan, which Ankara claims was organized by US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.
Erdogan pointed to the European Union criticism of Turkey's state of emergency following last July's attempted coup and told the bloc to "mind its own business". "An anti-Islam and anti-Turkish Europe", Erdogan told a rally in Ankara in his latest onslaught against the European Union.
EU Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans told reporters after a meeting with Gabriel that EU officials were united in rejecting the Nazi comparisons.
Separately, Zafer Sirakaya, president of the pro-Erdogan group that organised the rallies, said the events were cancelled over security reasons.
Reiner Haseloff, another member of Merkel's CDU and premier of Saxony-Anhalt state, urged Berlin to bar such visits. Europe, in turn, questions whether fugitives wanted in Turkey would get a fair trial, and says free speech laws and other rights protect many dissidents.
Erdogan claimed that Germany acted with double standards by saying that the German judiciary would deal with the files, and then asking Turkey to interfere with its own judiciary to secure the release of the correspondent of Germany's Die Welt newspaper.
"We do not want to see tension in Germany continuing to rise", he said.
While Chancellor Angela Merkel's federal government has distanced itself from the decisions of local authorities, Turkish politicians have accused the government of carrying out a covert and systematic campaign to obstruct their rallies, and favoring the No campaign.
EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn told the Bild newspaper in an interview published on Tuesday that Turkey's prospects for joining the EU would be "increasingly unrealistic" unless it changed course and stopped moving away from European values. There is increasing concern among European nations about what they view as an accelerating slide toward authoritarian practices under Erdogan. "They make a reasonable dialogue impossible", he said.
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