Monday, March 1, 2021

Turkey PM to speak to Merkel amid rally ban row


tiamin rice

Turkish Prime Minister and the leader of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Binali Yildirim (C) waves after giving his speech during an AK Party’s group meeting at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM) in Ankara, on February 28, 2017.

“I have a telephone call with the German chancellor at 3:00 pm (1200 GMT),” Yildirim told a rally in the central Turkish province of Kirsehir where he was campaigning for a “Yes” vote in the April 16 referendum to boost President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s powers.

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The Turkish public will decide whether to approve constitutional changes that will expand the role of the head of state and remove the office of the premier.

Turkey and Germany have been locked in a war of words this week after German towns blocked events where Turkish ministers sought to address Turks living there about the vote.

Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag was due to speak in Gaggenau in western Germany on Thursday but it was cancelled, while the town of Frechen on the outskirts of Cologne scrapped a rally that had been scheduled for Sunday.

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Elsewhere, Cologne city authorities withdrew permission for a hall to be used for a speech by Turkish Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci. Yildirim said the moves were “an unfortunate decision against democracy, freedoms”.

“I invite the German authorities to look (again) at these attitudes which are incompatible with good relations between two countries,” he added.

The premier accused Germany of allowing “nay-sayers” against the vote and “terrorists” to rally while blocking the “Yes” vote campaigners, which he said was not acceptable.

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In a defiant tone, he told the Kirsehir rally: “Our citizens in Germany will give them a lesson in democracy.” Earlier in the day, Bozdag had accused Merkel of failing to criticise the municipalities’ decision to block the events.

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