German govt against blanket ban on Turkish rallies

Merkel's spokesman says campaign events are OK under certain conditions, criticizes Nazi comparison by Turkish politicians

German govt against blanket ban on Turkish rallies

World Bulletin / News Desk

German chancellor's spokesman on Monday rejected calls by the opposition parties for a general ban on campaign rallies by Turkish politicians, after the Netherlands banned such events.

Speaking at a news conference in Berlin, Steffen Seibert said Turkish ministers and politicians could address their countrymen in Germany on the upcoming constitutional referendum in Turkey, provided that they obtain permission from local authorities, and respect German laws and regulations.

“If we are criticising others for restrictions on freedom of expression and press, then we have to remain committed to these values in our country," the spokesman said.

“We have not declared a general ban for the appearance of Turkish politicians here.

"Such appearances are possible within the framework of our laws and the law on events, on condition that these do not stir up conflicts among the Turkish community here, and on condition that authorities are informed timely and in a transparent way beforehand," he added.

Seibert underlined that in the past Turkish ministers and politicians had held similar rallies in Germany, and these did not pose any danger to public order.

His remarks came amid an ongoing standoff between Turkey and the Netherlands, after the Dutch government banned planned rallies of Turkish ministers ahead of April 16 referendum.

On Saturday, the Dutch government first canceled the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu's flight permit to the Netherlands and then blocked a convoy carrying Family Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya and forced her to leave the country under police escort.

Minutes after the Dutch cancelation was announced, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan described the move as a measure by “Nazi remnants and fascists”.

-Merkel criticizes Nazi comparison

German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed regret on Monday for Erdogan’s Nazi comparison while he criticized the Dutch government, and she called on Turkish politicians to refrain from making such references in the future.

"This is totally unacceptable," she said at a news conference in Berlin, and extended her solidarity with the government of the Netherlands.

Merkel argued that comparisons to the Nazi era could trivialize the deep suffering of the victims under Nazi Germany, and stressed that the people of the Netherlands also suffered from National Socialism.

Nearly 1.5 million Turkish migrants in Germany, and 250 thousand in Netherlands are eligible to vote in Turkey’s April 16 referendum on constitutional reforms, which include change to a presidential system of governance. Turkish citizens living abroad will cast their votes at Turkish consulates between March 27 and April 9.

Far-right and populist parties in Germany, the Netherlands and Austria have recently proposed banning rallies of Turkish politicians in Europe ahead of the referendum, arguing that their campaign lead to polarization among the Turkish community living in their countries, undermining their integration.

However, Council of Europe’s Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland called on the European countries on Sunday to engage in dialogue with Turkey for giving an opportunity for Turkish citizens abroad to be informed about the pros and cons of the proposed constitutional amendments.

"All public meetings and political campaigns held in Council of Europe member states should be conducted in accordance with national legislation and the European Convention on Human Rights," he stressed.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 14 Mart 2017, 00:59