Rotterdam bans Turk­ish min­is­ter from cam­paign­ing

New Straits Times - - World -

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”.

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