Germany, Netherlands announce they will not allow Turkish politicians to campaign for elections

The governments of Germany and the Netherlands have announced that they will not allow Turkish politicians to campaign within their borders for parliamentary and presidential elections to be held in Turkey on June 24, following Austria’s lead.

The German government has clarified that Turkish politicians will not be allowed to campaign in the country in the run-up to snap elections, according to a report by Chinese news agency Xinhua on Saturday. Xinhua quoted the German foreign ministry as saying that foreign officials need to obtain permission from the federal government before campaigning in Germany.

“As a matter of principle, no approval is granted within three months of the date of the election or referendum,” spokesman Rainer Breul said. The ruling, he confirmed, applied to all countries with diplomatic representations in Germany but excluded fellow members of the European Union.

Federal government spokesman Steffen Seibert said that to Germany’s knowledge, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had no plans to visit.

“Our position on this topic is clear. No election campaigns will be allowed in Germany three months prior to an election in a foreign country,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas also told reporters in Toronto on Sunday.

Underlining that what had been experienced between Turkey and Germany last year over a referendum campaign crisis was not useful to either side, Maas said he hopes it will not be repeated. Maas is expected to raise the issue during his first meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu in New York in the sidelines of UN meetings on April 24-25.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has also said that President Erdoğan or his ministers conducting rallies in the Netherlands would constitute “a threat to public order,” according to a report by BBC Turkish. He added that he did not want any Turkish politicians asking to campaign there, either.

“We do not want to import problems from outside,” Rutte said and added, “The truth is that we have freedom of speech, assembly and organisation, but this is not unlimited.” Turkey was on “the wrong road” in terms of democratic development, Rutte said.

Turkey’s EU Minister Ömer Çelik criticized the Netherlands’ “undemocratic” decision to follow Austria’s lead to ban Turkish politicians from campaigning for the upcoming snap elections in Turkey, accusing both countries of hypocrisy for being in favor of democracy in Europe but the opposite outside of the bloc.

In a statement posted on his Twitter account, Çelik accuse the leaders of both countries of welcoming anti-Turkey and xenophobic political movements.

“It is evident that Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte do not base such decisions on democratic values and greet anti-Turkey and racist political movements,” Çelik claimed, adding that these leaders contribute to the growth of racist groups which oppose European values.

The minister urged the Netherlands and Austria to act using commonsense and refrain from damaging democratic values, which threatens the rise of populism and animosity in the political sphere. He criticized the stance of both countries by asserting that they should not defend democracy solely for the bloc but should defend the same principles when it comes to countries outside of the bloc.

“If they really want their words regarding democracy to be credible, they should make decisions without the influence of anti-Turkey sentiment,” he claimed.

Last year, during a Turkish referendum campaign to amend the constitution and change the system of governance from a parliamentary to a presidential system, the Netherlands refused to allow Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu’s plane to land in the country. Family and Social Policy Minister Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya in response went from Germany to Rotterdam by car to hold a rally and was declared persona non grata and escorted by police out of the Netherlands.

The Netherlands and Germany’s announcement, which echoes that of Austria on Friday, was made after Turkey’s ruling party announced that it would seek permission for rallies in Europe and the United States.

The first announcement that Erdoğan’s propaganda would be prevented came from Austria, where Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz issued a statement and said, “The Erdoğan government has been trying to take advantage of people of Turkish origin in Europe.”

“The holding of a Turkish election campaign is not desired in Austria, that is why we won’t be allowing it,” he added.

Austria, the Netherlands and Germany had also not permitted campaigning by Turkish government officials for the referendum held in Turkey on April 16, 2017.

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