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German FM: Rule of law, decency need to be respected

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German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel on Sunday rebuffed Ankara’s reaction to the cancellation of referendum campaign programs of Turkish ministers in Germany, saying rules of law and decency need to be respected in addition to freedom of expression.

“We value freedom of expression, but rules of law, decency need to be respected,” said Gabriel in a tweet posted on the German Foreign Office’s official Twitter account, quoting the minister in an interview with the Bild daily.

“Criticism remains vital, but difficult issues must not be used to play off each other,” added the foreign minister.

Earlier on Sunday, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused Germany of employing practices similar to those of the Nazi era by refusing to allow two Turkish ministers to deliver speeches in the country in support of a constitutional reform package that will be put to a public vote on April 16.

German authorities last week did not allow Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ and Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekçi to deliver speeches in German towns during which the ministers would ask for support from Turkish expatriates for the reforms, which will introduce an executive presidency and further strengthen Erdoğan.

Zeybekçi, however, arrived in the western city of Leverkusen for an event at the Forum cultural center to speak to expatriates in Germany and promote support for the constitutional referendum.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşuğlu and Gabriel decided during a phone call on Friday to meet in Germany on March 8 over the crisis.

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