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Turkey cannot be pushed around

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Turkish president on Wednesday slammed again the ban over Turkish political rallies in Europe, saying Turkey is not a country that can be "pushed around".

“Turkey is not a country whose ministers can be kicked out, and whose citizens can be kicked around," Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at a meeting with members of the Anatolian Publishers Association at the presidential palace in Ankara.

The president's remarks came amid ongoing tensions with several European countries over their refusal to allow Turkish ministers to hold public rallies ahead of Turkey’s April 16 referendum.

On March 11, the Dutch government first canceled a flight by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and then blocked a convoy carrying Family Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya, forcing her to leave the country under police escort. The ministers had been due to meet Turkish residents ahead of the referendum vote.

When Turkish citizens in Rotterdam tried to peacefully protest, they were met by police using batons, dogs and water cannons, in what some analysts called a disproportionate use of force.

Turkey has strongly condemned the incidents and suspended high-level diplomatic ties with the Netherlands.

Erdogan called on the European countries to respect democracy, human rights and freedoms.

“As Turkey, we invite the European countries to respect democracy, human rights and freedoms. It should be remembered that Europeans in particular need these values as much as we do," he said.

He also criticized again German Chancellor Angela Merkel over her remarks of solidarity with the Netherlands, a country Erdogan said "closed its door to Turkish ministers," and "let its dogs loose on my [Turkish] citizens".

"So, you say you are standing by the Netherlands. Fine. Then I am standing by my people and God," he said.

Tensions between Turkey and Germany have increased over the recent weeks due to the decision of local authorities to cancel planned campaign rallies by Turkish ministers who favor constitutional change for a transition to a presidential system.

While Chancellor Angela Merkel’s federal government has distanced itself from the decisions of local authorities, Turkish politicians have accused the government of carrying out a covert and systematic campaign to obstruct their rallies, and favoring the No campaign.

The cancellation of referendum rallies drew the ire of Turkey, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan comparing the move to Nazi-era practices.

2017.03.22 / 18:29
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