Turkey, Austria in fresh row over coup anniversary event

Turkey, Austria in fresh row over coup anniversary event

ANKARA / VIENNA
Turkey, Austria in fresh row over coup anniversary event

Turkey and Austria have engaged in another row over an event marking the first anniversary of the July 2016 coup attempt, with the Turkish Economy Ministry denying reports that it requested the event in Austria. Vienna had said that it barred Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci from entering the country for such an event.

“It is seen in some local and foreign media outlets in the morning hours of today that our Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci was not allowed to enter Austria for an event that will be held on July 15, 2017 in the country. Unlike the news reports, there has been no demand from Zeybekci or the ministry to organize an event on July 15, 2017 in Austria,” the ministry stated.

“On the other hand, it is out of the question for the minister to have to request permission from anyone to meet our citizens in Austria or in any other part of the world,” it added.

The ministry also said there were plans for Zeybekci to hold discussions with the Austrian foreign minister and the economic affairs minister in the country soon.

Despite the denial, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hüseyin Müftüoğlu separately stated on July 10 that the incident “proved that Vienna is not sincere in its approach to protecting democratic values.”

In addition, commenting on reports of the ban ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) spokesperson Mahir Ünal said Ankara “never favored tension and conflict in its foreign policy.”

“Turkey has always sided with dialogue and diplomacy. It is not acceptable for Turkey’s meeting with its citizens to be prevented,” Ünal told a press conference in the capital Ankara.

Earlier, a spokesman for Austria’s Foreign Ministry said the country had barred Zeybekci from entering the country to attend an event commemorating the July 2016 coup attempt.

“I can confirm that Foreign Minister [Sebastian] Kurz has in fact forbidden the Turkish economy minister from entering the country,” the spokesman told ORF radio, Reuters reported.

He said the event was “very big” and the visit represented a “danger for public order and security in Austria.”

The reports follow a similar move by the Netherlands, which stated on July 7 that Deputy Prime Minister Tugrul Türkeş was “not welcome” to visit for a ceremony commemorating the anniversary among Turkish expatriates.

A statement by the Dutch Foreign Ministry said the attendance by Türkeş or other members of Turkey’s government was undesirable “given the current circumstances in the bilateral relations between our countries.”

Shortly before Dutch national elections in March, the authorities in the Netherlands refused to allow Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Family Minister Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya to enter the country to campaign for the April 16 referendum on constitutional amendments.

The flight permit for Çavuşoğlu was canceled on March 11, while Rotterdam police barred Kaya’s entrance to the consulate building on the same day.

Kaya traveled to Germany with a police escort late on March 12.