Rotterdam mayor says Turkish FM not allowed to campaign for referendum

Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb.

Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb said on Friday that Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu would not be allowed to campaign for a referendum in Turkey during a visit to Rotterdam on Saturday.

According to Reuters, Aboutaleb said during a press conference on Friday, “He has diplomatic immunity and everything so we will treat him with respect, but we have other instruments to prohibit things happening in public spaces.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Çavuşoğlu announced that he had canceled his Netherlands campaign program after the Dutch government announced last week that Çavuşoğlu’s planned rallies were “undesirable.”

Reuters reported on Thursday that Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders had called his Turkish counterpart, saying his planned visit was unwanted and that he would not receive an official welcome should he still decide to come.

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

Earlier on Friday, Turkey’s Family and Social Affairs Minister Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya’s several political campaign meetings have also been cancelled in the Netherlands and Germany. 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. (SCF with March 11, 2017

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