German municipality moves referendum speech by Turkish FM to another hall

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ANKARA, TURKEY - MARCH 3 : Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu speaks to media after Germany revoked its permission for Turkish Justice Minister Bozdağ's meeting, citing concerns about overcrowding, in Ankara, Turkey on March 3, 2017. AFP

A local municipality in the German city of Hamburg moved a private event to be hosted by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu during which he intends to seek support from Turkish expatriates for an upcoming referendum that will introduce an executive presidency in Turkey to another hall due to “serious fire safety hazards.”

In a statement to German media, an official from Mitte Municipality whose name was not disclosed said that the venue, the Plaza Event Center, where Çavuşoğlu had planned to speak Tuesday cannot be used “after serious fire safety hazards were identified and the use of the property was immediately prohibited.”

The German official did not disclose the name or location of the new venue but added that it would be announced early on Tuesday.

Last week local authorities in Gaggenau and Cologne canceled the programs of Bozdağ and Zeybekçi, which caused ties between the two countries to become strained.

Zeybekçi, however, arrived in the western city of Leverkusen for an event on Friday and made a speech to expatriates and urged support for the constitutional referendum.

Following the cancellations, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused Germany of employing practices similar to those of the Nazi era.

I thought that Nazism has ended in Germany. But it seems your practices are no different from the Nazi practices of the past,” he said during a speech in İstanbul on Sunday.

Germany is home to around 1.4 million Turks who are eligible to vote in the referendum on April 16, which will enormously expand Erdoğan’s powers and switch Turkey into an executive presidency.

Turkey’s referendum campaign in Europe has been met with resistance and further cancellations in other countries.

While the Dutch government criticized a planned rally with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşuğlu in Rotterdam this week and called it “undesirable,” Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern on Sunday called for an EU-wide ban on Turkish referendum campaigning.

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