Turkey on Saturday said it would keep holding rallies in Germany and the Netherlands to urge Turks living there to back a vote to boost Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s powers, despite opposition from authorities in both countries.
Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu criticized German and Dutch restrictions on such gatherings as undemocratic, and said Turkey would press on with them in the run-up to the April 16 referendum.
“None of you can prevent us,” he told a campaign event in southern Turkey. “We can go anywhere we want, meet our citizens, hold our meetings.”
The defiant Turkish comments highlight the importance Erdogan places on securing the new powers, especially since a failed military coup in July last year, in what could turn out to be a close vote.
The disagreement has led to sharp exchanges between the NATO partners.
Adding to the tensions, Germany has demanded the release of a German journalist arrested in Turkey on Monday last week, while Erdogan on Friday called him a “German spy.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday spoke by telephone with Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, a German government spokesman said, without providing details of the conversation.
German Minister of Foreign Affairs Sigmar Gabriel, who is to meet with his Turkish counterpart in Berlin this week, warned against stirring up tensions between the two countries, but also said Berlin would not refrain from criticism where warranted.
“The German-Turkish friendship runs deeper than the diplomatic tensions we are experiencing today,” he wrote in an essay published yesterday in the Bild am Sonntag newspaper. “We cannot allow hate and misunderstanding to grow out of political differences.”
Gabriel said Turkish politicians who wanted to campaign in Germany should respect the “rules of law, as well as decency.”
Several members of Merkel’s coalition on Saturday voiced concerns about Turkish politicians rallying support among Germany’s 1.5 million Turkish citizens.
“We don’t want marketing for the undemocratic and illegitimate Turkish referendum on German soil,” Juergen Hardt, foreign policy spokesman for Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union, told reporters.
Several events have already been blocked for security reasons, sparking anger among Turkish leaders who accused Germany of double standards.
Turkish Minister of Economy Nihat Zeybekci has had two events canceled, but planned to speak yesterday at events in Leverkusen and Cologne.
The Dutch government on Friday said it would inform Ankara of its opposition to “undesirable” proposals to hold a referendum rally in Rotterdam.
“The Netherlands told us ‘You can’t campaign in our public spaces.’ What do you mean, we can’t? Where is democracy ... where is freedom of expression?” Cavusoglu said.
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of
They stand as eyesores to most passers-by and potential public health risks to authorities, decaying buildings wrapped in tangles of exposed wire, studded with protruding leaky plastic pipes, vegetation billowing from cracks and terraces where particulates from polluted air have accumulated over time. With skyscrapers and ultramodern developments on every side, some of these “nail houses” are also sitting on land worth millions of dollars in Shenzhen’s inferno of a property market, where new-unit and second-hand home prices rival London. In battles over land and development, the nail house phenomenon has become widespread throughout China over the past two decades, with owners
An Italian alpine resort on Friday remained on high alert over fears that a vast chunk of a glacier on the slopes of the Mont Blanc massif could plummet in high temperatures. “No one gets through! No cars, bikes or pedestrians,” was the message at a checkpoint where an automatic barrier and two guards blocked the small road snaking up into a lush valley below the Planpincieux glacier, near the town of Courmayeur and the Italian-French border. The blockade has largely been greeted with contempt by the locals, one of whom said: “It’s a joke.” The huge ice block measuring around 500,000 cubic
BEYOND CULTURE: The US State Department was expected to announce that the Chinese government-funded institutes would have to register as foreign missions US President Donald Trump’s administration is increasing scrutiny of a long-established Chinese-government funded program that is dedicated to teaching Chinese language and culture in the US and other nations, the latest escalation of tensions with Beijing. The US Department of State was expected to announce as soon as yesterday that Confucius Institutes in the US — many of which are based on college campuses — would have to register as “foreign missions,” according to people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified. The designation would amount to a conclusion that the institutes are “substantially owned or effectively controlled” by