Turkish economy minister meets with Turks in Germany
REUTERS photoTurkish Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci met with the local Turkish community on March 5 at an event in the city of Cologne.
The meeting comes ahead of the April 16 referendum on constitutional amendments, including the shift to an executive presidency from the current parliamentary system.
Initial plans for the event – along with another featuring Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ – had been cancelled last week, causing a rift between Berlin and Ankara.
The German government has distanced itself from the bans, which came after Turkish-German journalist Deniz Yücel was arrested in Istanbul.
In his speech on March 5, Zeybekci thanked Berlin for letting him meet with members of the community at the indoor event hosted by a local branch of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
The minister, who did not criticize German authorities, instead described Germany as a “friendly nation.”
“We have millions of citizens in this friendly nation, this friendly country,” Zeybekci said. “We are exercising a right.”
Ahead of the bans last week, there were calls from German opposition parties and media for a blackout on Turkish politicians ahead of the referendum.
Among Germany’s 3 million-strong Turkish community, nearly 1.5 million of them are eligible to vote. They will cast their votes at Turkish consulates in Germany between March 27 and April 9.