Rotterdam bans Turkish minister from campaigning
ROTTERDAM: Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was not allowed to campaign for votes among expatriate Turks during a visit here yesterday, the mayor of the Dutch port had said, joining a growing list of European cities that have blocked such rallies.
“He has diplomatic immunity, so we will treat him with respect. But, we have other instruments to prohibit things happening in public spaces,” Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb said.
Three Turkish political meetings in Austria and one in Switzerland were also cancelled in the latest signs of unease across Europe over Turkey’s efforts to rally support for President Tayyip Erdogan in the run-up to an April 16 referendum on granting him new powers.
Relations between Turkey and the European Union had deteriorated in recent months, with Erdogan bristling at criticism from EU members for waging a mass crackdown on opponents since he saw off a coup attempt last July.
The row over campaigning in Europe had exacerbated tensions.
Having survived the July coup, Erdogan said the referendum was needed to guarantee stability. European politicians accused him of using the failed putsch as a pretext for mass arrests and dismissals that stifle dissent.
The proposed constitutional changes to greatly strengthen his powers would be a “dangerous step backwards” for democracy, a panel of legal experts at the Council of Europe said on Friday.
It said the amendments would give the president “the power to dissolve Parliament on any grounds whatsoever, which is fundamentally alien to democratic presidential systems”.