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Police on alert as Turkish minister speaks in Cologne

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Author: AFPMon, 2017-03-06ID: 1488750894854395400FRANKFURT AM MAIN: Police in the German city of Cologne on Sunday boosted security around a campaign appearance by Turkey’s economy minister.Nihat Zeybekci spoke at a private event in a central Cologne hotel on Sunday evening, after local authorities blocked two public rallies he had planned to woo Turkish expatriate voters for an April 16 referendum.With roughly 3 million people of Turkish origin living in Germany, the country represents the biggest reserve of expatriate voters worldwide for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as he seeks public approval of constitutional changes extending his powers.But several German towns have canceled public campaign events by Turkish ministers in recent days over safety and security concerns, fraying relations between Berlin and Ankara.While Chancellor Angela Merkel has said it is up to local authorities whether to permit rallies, Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag on Saturday complained that German leaders “do not say the decision taken by the authorities is wrong.”The justice minister had himself been scheduled to speak in the small western German town of Gaggenau on Thursday, but his rally was also canceled.Meanwhile, Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern said on Sunday Turkish politicians should be banned from political campaigning across the EU.“A collective EU response to prevent such campaign events would make sense so that individual countries like Germany where appearances are forbidden don’t end up being pressured by Turkey,” Kern told German newspaper Welt am Sonntag.Kern said that long-running EU accession negotiations with Turkey should be abandoned in response to Erdogan’s “trampling on human rights and basic democratic rights.”“We can’t continue negotiating about membership with a country that has been distancing itself from democratic norms and rule-of-law principles for years,” Kern said.
Main category: World

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