No one can prevent us from meeting with citizens, Turkish FM Çavuşoğlu tells Germany, Netherlands

No one can prevent us from meeting with citizens, Turkish FM Çavuşoğlu tells Germany, Netherlands

No one can prevent us from meeting with citizens, Turkish FM Çavuşoğlu tells Germany, Netherlands Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has said that neither Germany nor the Netherlands can prevent the Turkish officials from meeting with citizens.

“None of you can prevent us. We can go anywhere we want, we can meet our citizens and hold our meetings,” Çavuşoğlu said in an event in the Kaş district of the southern province of Antalya on March 4, as he criticized both countries over “their understanding of democracy.”

“The Netherlands said, ‘You can’t campaign in our public spaces.’ What do you mean we can’t? Where is democracy, where are freedoms, where is the freedom of experession? You are giving us lessons, but where is the right to gather? Is that your understanding of freedom? We can meet with our citizens. The messages that we are going to give there are compatible with the countries. Our messages are aimed at our citizens to contribute to the countries,” he also said. 

Saying that Germany and the Netherlands shouldn’t be afraid of Turkey, Çavuşoğlu noted that Germany allows the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) to make speeches.

“You allow the PKK, they connect through the phone, but you don’t allow the president to speak,”  he said, referring to Germany’s bar on President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan from holding a planned rally with Germany-based Turkish citizens last year, after the failed July 2016 military coup attempt, widely believed to have been masterminded by the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ).  

During his speech, Çavuşoğlu said that the countries prevent those who are going to vote “no” in the April 16 referendum that will decide whether the current parliamentary system should be shifted to an executive presidency. 

“All of them are working for a ‘no’ campaign. They allow those going to vote ‘no,’ but they don’t allow those going there for ‘yes.’ That is among the reasons for why we should vote ‘yes,’” he said. 

The Dutch government said on March 3 it opposed plans by Turkish authorities to hold a referendum campaign rally in Rotterdam, saying it would inform Ankara of its opposition to the "undesirable" move.

Earlier, the leader of an association of Dutch Turks said Çavuşoğlu was planning to attend the March 11 rally, hoping to persuade the Netherlands' hundreds of thousands of dual citizens to vote “yes” in the upcoming contitutional referendum. 

A statement regarding the referendum events in the Netherlands came from the country’s Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

The Netherlands is not a place for other countries‘ election rallies, Mark Rutte said on Facebook.

"We will not cooperate with this. We find this undesirable. We believe that the Dutch public space is not the place for political campaigns in other countries," he added. 

Two German towns this week banned similar planned events with Turkish officials.

On March 2, the municipality of Gaggenau in southwest Germany revoked its permission for Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ's meeting, citing concerns about overcrowding. This prompted Bozdağ to cancel his planned visit to Germany altogether.

Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci’s planned address on March 5 to a Turkish community in western city of Cologne was also cancelled by local authorities over security concerns.