Germany approves Turkish polling stations ‘on condition’
AFP photoGermany has given its “conditional” approval to Ankara’s request to open polling stations in the country for the April 16 referendum on constitutional changes in Turkey, a German government official said March 15, state-run Anadolu Agency has reported.
German Foreign Ministry Spokesman Martin Schaefer told a news conference in Berlin that the German government had authorized the opening of 13 polling stations to allow Turkish nationals to cast their votes between March 27 and April 9, adding the approval was conditional on continued respect for German laws and regulations.
“We are expecting from Turkish authorities a tangible, constructive cooperation during the preparations and conduct of the polls in Germany. That also applies to appearances planned in Germany ahead of the referendum,” he said.
Schaefer added the German government reserved the right to revise its authorization in the case of violations of German laws.
He also underlined that any insult to the German state and its symbols during campaign rallies would be punishable according to criminal law.
Tensions between Turkey and Germany have increased recently due to the decision of local authorities to cancel planned campaign rallies by Turkish ministers who favor constitutional change for a transition to an executive presidential system.
While Chancellor Angela Merkel’s federal government has distanced itself from the decisions of local authorities, Turkish politicians have accused the government of carrying out a covert and systematic campaign to obstruct their rallies, and favoring the “No” campaign.
The cancellation of referendum rallies drew the ire of Turkey, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan comparing the move to Nazi-era practices.
Nearly 3 million Turks live in Germany and around half are eligible to vote in the referendum on the constitutional changes, which includes a shift into an executive presidential system of governance.
Turkish citizens will cast their votes at nine consulates and four other polling stations between March 27 and April 9.