German FM says he hopes dispute with Turkey over election campaigns doesn’t repeat
“[Such as dispute] isn’t beneficial for either sides,” Maas said, speaking on the sidelines of the G7 foreign ministers meeting in Toronto.
Maas said a foreign country’s election campaigning is not allowed in Germany three months before the elections. He said rules apply to all countries, and is not specific to Turkey.
“Our stance in this regard is firm. Campaigning for a foreign country’s elections in Germany is not allowed after three months are left before the elections,” Maas said.
“That’s true, and that applies to everyone, regardless of where they come from,” he added.
Maas said he hopes, however, that the ban will not lead to a new dispute with Turkey.
“I do not want that, and I do not wish that to anyone involved,” he said.
However, to Maas’s disappointment, a dispute could erupt between the two countries if the European country Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan referred to as a planned campaigning ground on April 22 turns out to be Germany.
“Our preparations abroad are most likely complete by now. I will not name the country where, but I will be addressing Turkish citizens at an indoors gym with a capacity to hold around 10-11,000 [people],” Erdoğan said.
“Most likely, we will be gathering Europe there and, God willing, we will make our address,” he added.
On the other hand, according to the German news agency DPA, Maas and his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu are set to attend the U.N. General Assembly High Level Meeting in New York on April 24 and 25.
There, the two top diplomats are set to hold a bilateral meeting for the first time.
Turkey’s relationship with prominent European countries like Germany and the Netherlands was severely strained ahead of the April 17, 2017 constitutional change referendum.
Erdoğan and ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) officials had accused the West of taking sides when applications from Erdoğan and AKP ministers who wanted to campaign in European countries were rejected, causing extra tension with Germany and the Netherlands in particular.
EU politicians had made clear that they were annoyed with the remarks of Erdoğan who likened them to Nazis and fascists.
Erdoğan said the West was aiming to halt Turkey’s growth and campaigning for “no” in a bid to continue their efforts to divide it.
“We are going to give a very hard lesson to those who are wagging their fingers at us,” he said on April 10, 2017.
The Turkish Parliament on April 20 approved a joint proposal of the AKP and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) to hold snap elections on June 24, 2018, a year-and-a-half before the originally scheduled date.
On the other hand, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has for the last decade talked about the need for greater integration of Germany’s Turkish community. The arrival of more than one million migrants in the last two years had intensified the debate.
Currently, nearly three million Turks live in Germany yet Germany is not likely to remain the Erdoğan administration’s only concern in Europe ahead of the rescheduled elections.
On April 20, Austria’s right-wing coalition government, which is strongly opposed to Turkey joining the European Union, said it will bar Turkish politicians from campaigning on its territory ahead of the June snap elections, the country’s chancellor had said.