Ankara tones it down: Erdoğan rally in Germany ‘not yet on the schedule’

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan addresses the audience during his visit in Karlsruhe, southwestern Germany, on May 10, 2015. AFP PHOTO / DANIEL ROLAND

Amid a war of words between Ankara and Berlin over Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan’s possible rally in Germany during G-20 summit on July 7-8, Turkish authorities said Erdoğan’s address to the Turkish community is “not on his official schedule yet,” the Hürriyet Daily News reported on Thursday.

“Our president’s Germany schedule has still not yet been completed and so far there is no item such as a public address on his schedule. It is true that such an invitation has been made, but there isn’t any fixed program other than the president’s contacts within the framework of the G20 summit,” Turkish presidential sources told the daily, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Ankara’s statement came after German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel voiced disapproval of a political rally held by Erdoğan and implied that Chancellor Angela Merkel was of the same view.

Earlier on Thursday, Martin Schulz, the Social Democrat candidate for chancellor of Germany, called for a ban on Erdoğan’s planned political rally in Germany.

“Foreign politicians who trample our values at home must not be allowed a stage for speeches in Germany. I don’t want Mr. Erdoğan, who jails opposition politicians and journalists in Turkey, to hold big rallies in Germany,” Schulz said.

German media have reported that Erdoğan was planning to deliver a speech to Turks in Germany, but his applications to hold a rally have been rejected by event halls in Cologne, Dusseldorf, Dortmund and Oberhausen.

German officials are concerned about increased tension and clashes between pro-Erdoğan supporters and Kurdish nationalists around the G20 summit.

Schulz, who reminded that rallies of ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) politicians were cancelled before a Turkish referendum on April 16, said Erdoğan should not be allowed to import an internal Turkish conflict to Germany, where around 3 million Turkish-Germans live.

Turkish Presidency spokesperson İbrahim Kalın said on Thursday that recent remarks by German politicians objecting to a political rally by Erdoğan in July are provocative, malevolent and indicative of double standards in Europe.

The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement on Thursday arguing that Germany is limiting freedom of expression by objecting to a political rally held by Erdoğan.

Relations between Turkey and Germany have deteriorated over the past year due to the blocking of a campaign in Germany for a referendum in Turkey, Erdoğan’s repeated emphasis on reintroducing the death penalty, Germany’s granting of asylum to military officers and diplomats who are accused of a failed coup attempt and human rights abuses in Turkey, including the arrest of two German-Turkish journalists.

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