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Thursday, 12 December 2019

No more Turkish campaign rallies in Germany before vote: AKP

AFP , Tuesday 21 Mar 2017
A security guard stands outside the offices of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Istanbul (Photo: AP)
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Views: 1688

Turkish politicians will hold no further rallies in Germany ahead of April's referendum on expanding President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's powers, his AKP party said Tuesday amid a heated diplomatic row.

"All future events that were planned have been cancelled. That is a decision that was made in Ankara," said a Cologne-based spokeswoman for the AKP's coordination office abroad.

Turkey and the European Union -- especially its top economy Germany, with its large Turkish diaspora -- are locked in a bitter dispute as tensions rise ahead of a April 16 referendum on scrapping the prime minister's post and creating a executive presidency.

Turkish ministers eager to tap into the overseas vote have sought to make campaign appearances in Germany to whip up support for a "yes" vote, but several were recently rebuffed when local and state authorities blocked the rallies, citing logistical reasons.

Ankara reacted with fury, with Erdogan accusing Germany and Chancellor Angela Merkel of "Nazi" practices, sparking deep consternation in Berlin.

On Monday, Merkel warned that Germany could issue a blanket ban against future campaign events by Turkish politicians unless Ankara halted its Nazi insults.

Such comments were "breaking every taboo, without consideration for the suffering of those who were persecuted and murdered" by the Nazis, she said.

The latest row is one in a long list of disputes centred on human rights and freedom of expression that have plagued Ankara-Berlin ties, particularly since last July's failed military coup against Erdogan.

Berlin has emerged as a strident critic of Ankara's post-coup crackdown, which has seen more than 100,000 people arrested or dismissed from their posts over alleged links to the plotters or to Kurdish militants.

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