Turkish PM says Merkel talk 'productive,' but spat goes on

Mar 06, 2017, 00:45
Turkish PM says Merkel talk 'productive,' but spat goes on

Turkey's president has furiously attacked Germany after at least three political rallies due to be held by Turkish ministers in Germany were cancelled by local authorities.

Ankara and Berlin have been locked in acrimony over the last few days after German towns blocked events where Turkish ministers sought to address Turks living there about the April 16 referendum.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and his German counterpart, Sigmar Gabriel, agreed during a phone conversation to meet on Wednesday, according to a high-level Turkish official.

Gaggenau mayor Michael Pfeiffer said the decision had no political motivation.

And the western town of Gaggenau, which had scrapped a rally scheduled for Thursday by Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag, said it received a bomb threat early Friday.

On Friday evening the Dutch government said plans by Turkish authorities to hold a referendum campaign rally in Rotterdam were "undesirable".

"We support freedom of expression and we can criticise Turkey", she told reporters.

But German foreign ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer said "that is a decision the federal government has absolutely no influence on. because it falls under local or state jurisdiction on which we have zero influence".

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And ties have worsened after the formal arrest of Turkish-German Die Welt journalist Deniz Yucel on Monday who is accused of "terrorist propaganda". "One month. When we told them to hand him over to be tried, they refused".

"So, they won't let our justice minister and economy minister speak", Erdogan added.

Turkey says the decision violates basic rights.

Bozdag recalled that German authorities had previously not allowed Erdogan to address a meeting by video, but said leaders of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, which is also outlawed by Germany, were frequently allowed to address supporters in the country by video.

But Berlin and the European Union also need to ensure that Turkey remains part of a deal spearheaded a year ago by Merkel, which calls for Ankara to take back refugees arriving in Greece from Turkey in return for the EU providing financial support to shelter the refugees.

The justice minister accused "several" European Union countries of being against changing Turkey's governing system because they did not want it to be a strong and stable nation.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has called on Turkey to free Yucel and said Wednesday night that "independent journalism must be able to exist; journalists must be able to do their job".

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