Dutch gov’t cancels Minister Kaya’s political rallies in the Netherlands

Turkey’s Family and Social Affairs Minister Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya’s several political campaign meetings have been cancelled in the Netherlands and Germany on Friday. The Dutch and German authorities has cited ‘security reasons’ for the cancellations.

Minister Kaya had plans to address Turkish community members in the eastern Dutch towns of Hengelo, Enschede and Wehl as well Germany’s Cologne a day after Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told a news conference in Brussels that they do not want Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu holding rallies.

Following the recent cancellations by local German authorities of two Turkish ministers’ rallies, Dutch PM Rutte had announced on Facebook last Friday that the government had received confirmation that day from Turkish authorities that a campaign event in the Netherlands was planned.

“We will not cooperate with this [request]. We believe this is undesirable. We believe that the Dutch public space is not the place for political campaigns in other countries,” said Rutte.

The leader of an association of Dutch Turks said Çavuşoğlu was planning to attend the March 11 rally in Rotterdam in order to persuade Turkish expatriates in the Netherlands about a referendum on April 16 that will expand the powers of Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and switch Turkey to an executive presidency.

After a change of the venue by local German authorities due to security reasons, Çavuşoğlu gave a speech in Hamburg on Tuesday and spoke to Turkish expatriates in Germany.

Reacting the cancellations Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said in Düzce during a political rally on Friday that “Countries that prevent Turkish politicians from addressing referendum rallies in Europe “cannot accept democracy and freedom. The action was a reflection of the political mindset of World War II. This shows that the countries cannot accept democracy and freedom.”

Yıldırım has also claimed that the cancellations were against the democratic right of Turkish ministers and brought “shame” on those concerned.

Last week local authorities in Gaggenau and Cologne also canceled the programs of Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ and Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekçi, which caused ties between the two countries to become strained. Zeybekçi, however, arrived in the western city of Leverkusen for an event on Friday and made a speech to expatriates, urging support for the constitutional referendum.

President Erdoğan has reacted on Sunday that he will go to Germany for a referendum rally if he wants to and warned the German government that he would cause the world to rise up if he is not allowed to speak there.

Attacking the German government over the recent cancellation of referendum campaign programs of Turkish ministers in Germany, Erdoğan accused Germany of employing practices similar to those of the Nazi era.

“I thought that Nazism has ended in Germany. But it seems your practices are no different from the Nazi practices of the past,” he said during a speech in İstanbul on Sunday.

Underlining that the recent cancellation of programs planned to be attended by ministers Bozdağ and Zeybekçi in German towns were an attempt to prevent his arrival in Germany, Erdoğan said: “I will come to Germany if I want to. If you don’t let me in or if you don’t let me speak, I will make the whole world rise up.”

In response to Erdoğan’s remarks, Julia Klöckner, the deputy leader of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) said Erdoğan was “reacting like a defiant child who cannot have his way.”

“The Nazi comparison is a new high point of intemperance. It is simply outrageous! True statesmen do not speak like that.” Klöckner told the German newspaper Bild.

Germany is home to around 1.4 million Turks who are eligible to vote in the referendum on April 16, which will enormously expand Erdoğan’s powers and switch Turkey into an executive presidency.

Turkey’s referendum campaign in Europe has been met with resistance and further cancellations in other countries. Following the Dutch government criticized a planned rally with Turkish FM Çavuşuğlu in Rotterdam and called it “undesirable,” Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern on Sunday called for an EU-wide ban on Turkish referendum campaigning.

March 10, 2017

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