Turkey slams election campaign ban in Austria, the Netherlands
The Austrian and Dutch governments are “blocking the exercise of most fundamental democratic rights” by deciding to ban Turkish election campaigns ahead of the snap polls on June 24, Turkey’s European Union Affairs Minister Ömer Çelik has said.
“It is obvious that Austrian and Dutch PMs do not hinge upon democratic values while taking these decisions. They just send their greetings to anti-Turkish and racist political movements. With these approaches, Austria and the Netherlands only poison democratic values in their own countries. They contribute to the flourishing of racist political movements which are also hostile against EU values,” he said on his Twitter account on April 21.
“On the one hand, they block the exercise of most fundamental democratic rights and on the other hand they argue that there are negative developments in terms of democracy in Turkey,” he added.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz told ORF radio in remarks broadcast on April 20 that “Turkish election campaign appearances in Austria are unwanted,” stressing that they will not be allowed.
Kurz’s conservatives are in a coalition government with the anti-Islam Freedom Party, making Austria the only Western European country to have a far-right party in government.
The previous chancellor, a Social Democrat, said last year that he would try to prohibit any campaign appearances by Turkish ministers.
Any Austrian citizen of Turkish origin takes the risk of being denationalized in Austria if they vote in Turkey’s elections because the law prohibits dual citizenship. But more than 52,000 people living in Austria voted in the Turkish constitutional referendum on April 16, 2017, with 73 percent of them voting in favor of the changes proposed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its leader and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
In the June 24 elections Erdoğan will compete with opposition candidates for the presidency with broadened executive powers.
In the Netherlands, where more than 70,000 people voted in last year’s Turkish referendum, Prime Minister Mark Rutte followed his Austrian counterpart’s suit, saying that the Turkish politicians’ demand to campaign is “an undesired situation.”
“We don’t want to import any problems from outside,” he said on April 20, warning of possible public order disruptions.
Relations between Turkey and the Netherlands soured after Dutch authorities canceled the flight permit of a plane carrying Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu during last year’s referendum campaign. The Dutch government also expelled Family and Social Affairs Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya from Rotterdam, blocking her from addressing the Turkish community.