FM Çavuşoğlu says foolish acts of Europeans increased ‘yes’ vote in referendum

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Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu gives a speech on March 12, 2017 at the congress hall in the French eastern city of Metz, during a meeting to support Turkish president ahead of an April referendum that would boost his powers. The meeting, organised by a Turkish association, takes place after Dutch authorities barred Cavusoglu from entering the Netherlands, where he, too, had planned to campaign for the April referendum. The Netherlands, which holds general elections on March 15, 2017, had repeatedly said Cavusoglu was not welcome to campaign for the referendum in the country and refused his plane permission to land. / AFP PHOTO / JEAN-CHRISTOPHE VERHAEGEN

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has said he recently told his European counterparts that foolish acts on the part of Europeans have increased the public support for a constitutional reform package which will be put to a public vote in mid-April.

Speaking in the southern province of Isparta on Tuesday, Çavuşoğlu said: “I recently went to the foreign ministers’ meeting in Brussels. Foreign ministers of leading European countries told me there, ‘Oh, your [yes] vote has risen to 60 percent, our surveys indicate.’ I told them, ‘Thanks to you, there has been your contribution, your foolish acts have brought us the vote.”

Relations between Turkey and Europe have been severely strained since Turkish ministers were prevented from campaigning on the continent for a “yes” vote in this month’s referendum on expanding President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s powers.

Ankara has said such behavior was reminiscent of Nazi Germany and also raised the alarm over what it sees as rising racism and Islamophobia.

Germany branded as “unacceptable” Erdoğan’s charge that Chancellor Angela Merkel was using “Nazi measures” but signaled it wanted to avoid escalating the feud.

In January, Turkey’s Parliament passed the constitutional amendments later approved by Erdoğan that would transform the political order into an executive-style presidential system, effectively widening the scope of powers of the position.

The referendum on the constitutional amendments will be held on April 16.

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