No foreign politician has ever visited Turkey to run a domestic political campaign, Turkey’s top diplomat admitted, even though his government stirred troubles with German, Dutch and Austrian governments over Turkish President’s and government ministers’ pushy political campaigns to woo expat votes in Europe ahead of April referendum.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu disclosed on May 2, 2017 that according to the records kept by the foreign ministry, no foreign politician has ever asked for a permission to hold a political meeting in Turkey between 2002 and 2017, a period the ruling Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) in power.
Çavuşoğlu said the foreign ministry reviewed its documents but found no record of any foreign politician that came to Turkey to run political campaign. Turkish foreign minister’s revelation was made to Parliament when he responded in writing to a question motion submitted by an opposition deputy Nihat Yeşil.
Responding to a separate question in Parliament, Turkish top diplomat also denied he went to Germany to conduct a political campaign instead he said he was in Germany at the invitation of his counterpart Sigmar Gabriel. He said he also met nationals of Turkey in Germany as part of the Cabinet decision urging Turkish ministers to meet Turkish citizens abroad during their visits.
Çavuşoğlu’s defense was in response to the statement by the main opposition Republican Peoples’ Party (CHP) lawmaker Mustafa Sezgin Tanrıkulu who recalled that Turkish election law No.298 explicitly barred political campaigns abroad including the ones held at Turkish diplomatic and consular missions.
Fearing that he would admit to breaking a law on election campaign abroad, Çavuşoğlu did not mention that he met with Turks to make a pitch for ‘yes’ vote on the referendum that boosted Turkey’s already autocratic President Recep Tayip Erdoğan’s power and changed Turkish system from parliamentary system to presidential one without check and balances.
However Çavuşoğlu held a rally in the yard of the residence of the Hamburg consul general, asking Turkish citizens gathered there to vote for ‘yes’ in the referendum. He also slammed European states for preventing rallies by Turkish minister, and said “nobody can keep us from going there [Europe] and meeting with our citizens.” He claimed European governments pressure the hotels and halls, send out the police and then claim that it’s a local decision. “This is systemic pressure. And, both the state and the deep state are involved in it,” he added.
The Netherlands canceled the flight clearance for Çavuşoğlu’s aircraft to land in the country when he wanted to go there to attend a rally. Turkish Minister of Family and Social Policy Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya who was in Germany at the time was ordered by Erdoğan to go to the Netherlands via land instead. Yet, she was expelled from the Netherlands after she was prevented by police from entering the Turkish consulate residence in Rotterdam to deliver a campaign rally speech.
Erdoğan slammed both Germany and the Netherlands, calling them as fascists and Nazis, prompting a strong rebuke from most European states for his remarks.
May 19, 2017