[BREAKING] Turkish FM Çavuşoğlu cancels referendum speech in Netherlands

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Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu (C) greets Turkish people upon his arrival in Berlin to attend the opening ceremony of Berlin Tourism Fair on March 7, 2017. AFP

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu canceled his Netherlands campaign program for an April 16 referendum in Turkey after the Dutch government announced last week that Çavuşoğlu’s planned rallies were “undesirable.”

According to the Sputnik news portal, based on reports in the Dutch media, Çavuşoğlu canceled his program, planned to be held in Rotterdam on March 11.

Following the cancellations by local German authorities of two Turkish ministers’ rallies, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced on Facebook last Friday that the government had received confirmation that day from Turkish authorities that a campaign event in the Netherlands was planned.

Rutte said: “We will not cooperate with this [request]. We believe this is undesirable. We believe that the Dutch public space is not the place for political campaigns in other countries.”

According to a story by Reuters on Friday, the leader of an association of Dutch Turks said Çavuşoğlu was planning to attend the March 11 rally in Rotterdam in order to persuade Turkish expatriates in the Netherlands about a referendum on April 16 that will expand the powers of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and switch Turkey to an executive presidency.

After a change of the venue by local German authorities due to security reasons, Çavuşoğlu gave a speech in Hamburg on Tuesday and spoke to Turkish expatriates in Germany.

Last week local authorities in Gaggenau and Cologne canceled the programs of Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ and Economy Minister Nihat 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, urging support for the constitutional referendum.

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