Austrian PM vows to bar Turkey elections campaigns ahead of snap polls

Austrian PM vows to bar Turkey elections campaigns ahead of snap polls

VIENNA - Reuters
Austrian PM vows to bar Turkey elections campaigns ahead of snap polls

Austria’s right-wing coalition government, which is strongly opposed to Turkey joining the European Union, will bar Turkish politicians from campaigning on its territory ahead of snap June elections, the country’s chancellor has said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called snap parliamentary and presidential elections this week, bringing the votes forward by more than a year so that Turkey can switch to a new executive presidency system that was narrowly approved in a controversial referendum last year.

Ahead of that referendum, Turkish ministers sought to drum up support in countries with large Turkish communities, like the Netherlands and Germany. Those countries imposed bans on security grounds that angered Istanbul, and Erdoğan and some of his allies at the time compared the German government to “Nazis.”

“[Erdoğan’s] Turkish leadership has been trying to exploit Europe’s communities of Turkish origin for many years,” Chancellor Sebastian Kurz told ORF radio in remarks broadcast on April 20.

“Turkish election campaign appearances in Austria are unwanted and we will therefore no longer allow them,” Kurz added.

Austria’s opposition to such events is, however, not new.

The previous chancellor, a Social Democrat, said last year that he would try to prohibit any campaign appearances by Turkish ministers.

A law has since been passed giving the government greater powers to ban foreign political gatherings.

Several hundred thousand people in Austria are Turkish or of Turkish origin.

Kurz’s conservatives are in a coalition government with the anti-Islam Freedom Party, making Austria the only Western European country to have a far-right party in government.

Both parties believe the European Union should break off Turkish accession talks.

When asked if Austria would prevent campaign events by all Turkish political parties, not just the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Kurz said it would.

Sebastian Kurz, Austria, Turkey, elections, snap polls, campaign