German Social Democrat leader Schulz calls for ban on Erdoğan’s rally in Germany

German politician and candidate for chancellor Martin Schulz.

Martin Schulz, the Social Democrat candidate for German chancellor, has called for a ban on Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s political rally in Germany, Deutsche Welle reported on Thursday. Schulz, who has spoken to Bild daily, has also criticized Erdoğan’s oppression of opposition groups in Turkey and objected to his holding events during the G20 summit in Hamburg in July.

“Foreign politicians who trample on our values at home must not be allowed a stage for speeches in Germany. I don’t want Mr Erdoğan, who jails opposition politicians and journalists in Turkey, to hold big rallies in Germany” Schulz said. “It’s not about fire safety in the halls or the number of available parking places. It’s about Erdoğan not bringing internal political conflict in Turkey to Germany,” Schulz added.

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hüseyin Müftüoğlu on Thursday condemned remarks by SPD leader Schulz, over a potential rally by President Erdoğan and called the comments “unacceptable.”

“The approach on restricting the right to assembly and freedom of expression, especially from someone person who served as the head of the European Parliament, once more reveals the true face of the mentality we face and the double standards of those who are trying to give a lesson to others,” said Müftüoğlu. “We strongly condemn and reject the unacceptable remarks of this person against our president,” he added.

Sigmar Gabriel, German Foreign Minister, also voiced his disapproval of a political rally by Erdoğan and implied that Chancellor Angela Merkel is of the same view. The German government believes it would be “inappropriate” for President Erdoğan to make public appearances in Germany outside the G20 summit given current tensions between the two NATO allies, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said on Thursday.

Gabriel said Berlin had received a request for Erdoğan to be able to address members of the three-million-strong Turkish diaspora in the EU country. “I explained weeks ago to my Turkish colleagues that we don’t think that would be a good idea,” Gabriel said during a Russia visit, pointing at stretched police resources around the G20.

“I also said quite frankly that such an appearance would not be appropriate given the current adversarial situation with Turkey,” he added, stressing that Erdoğan would however be “received with honors” at the summit. He said the German government did not want Turkish citizens and dual nationals living in Germany to be unsettled.

Erdoğan is reported to be seeking a venue for a political rally in Dortmund on the eve of the G20 summit which will be held on July 8 and July 9, according to a report by the Deutsche Welle.

The German government had stated on June 26 that it does not expect to see Turkish security agents accused of attacking protesters in Washington during Erdogan’s visit to the country. German Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer said he could “assume with a good conscience that these people who have been incriminated by the US judicial authorities won’t set foot on German soil in the foreseeable future, including during the G20 summit.”

German media has reported that Erdoğan was planning to deliver a speech for Turkish people in Germany but his applications for an event organization have been rejected by the halls in Cologne, Dusseldorf, Dortmund and Oberhausen.

Meanwhile, Hurriyet Daily News wrote on Thursday that President Erdoğan’s address to the Turkish community in Germany during his visit to country for the G-20 Summit on July 7-8 is “not on his official schedule yet,” basing on information given by a Turkish presidential source speaking on condition of anonymity.

The information was provided by Turkish presidential source has stated that “We are following the statements from Germany carefully… Our president’s Germany schedule has still not yet been completed and so far there is no item such as a public address on his schedule. It is true that such an invitation has been made, but there isn’t any fixed program other than the president’s contacts within the framework of the G20 summit.”

According to Hurriyet Daily News, the same source has also said the application to the German authorities for the address was not made by the Turkish presidency. They also underlined that a possible address to the Turkish community in Germany was not high and important on their agenda. They speculated that it had been inflated in Germany, possibly out of domestic political considerations.

German officials are concerned about increased tension and clashes between pro-Erdoğan supporters and Kurdish nationalists around the G20 summit. Schulz, who reminded that rallies of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) politicians were cancelled before a Turkish presidential referendum on April 16, said Erdoğan should not be allowed to import an internal Turkish conflict to Germany, where around three million Turkish-Germans live.

Relations between Turkey and Germany have deteriorated over the past year due to blocking of a campaign in Germany for a presidential referendum in Turkey, Erdoğan’s repeated emphasis on reintroducing the death penalty, Germany’s grant of asylum to military officers and diplomats, who are accused of a failed coup attempt and human rights abuses in Turkey, including the arrest of two German-Turkish journalists. (SCF with June 29, 2017

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