BERLIN (AA) - Some European countries are taking decisions that have nothing to do with freedom of thought or expression as Turkey prepares for the upcoming referendum in April.
The Netherlands, Austria and Germany are some of the Western countries that have canceled meetings of some Turkish ministers and politicians, which they planned as part of their Yes campaigns ahead of the referendum in Turkey.
This attitude of western European countries opposes its own principles of democracy and freedom of expression.
While Austria offered to impose Europe-wide ban to Yes campaigners, Turkish opposition backing the No vote were able to carry out their rallies in the European countries without any hindrances. This shows that some European countries and governments are publicly supporting the No vote in the referendum that would change the Turkish constitution and its system of governance.
On Feb. 24, the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) and Freedom and Solidarity Party (ODP) organized a joint meeting in Berlin; however, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag from the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party was prevented from addressing the Turkish community in Germany's western Gaggenau city on March 2.
Following the first ban in Germany, local authorities also cancelled Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci’s meeting on March 5 in Cologne.
German authorities also cancelled rallies of former energy minister Taner Yildiz on March 6 and March 7 in Grosskrotzenburg and Nurnberg, respectively; he was eventually able to address the Turkish community in Frankfurt’s Kelsterbach district.
One of the most remarkable cancellations was the speech of Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Hamburg on March 7. Despite the cancellation, Cavusoglu went to Germany and addressed the Turkish community at Turkey's consulate-general in Hamburg.
A day after this rally, the foreign ministers of Turkey and Germany, Cavusoglu and Sigmar Gabriel, expressed a common desire to lower tensions between the two countries over the controversial ban on rallies of Turkish politicians.
- The Netherlands
Extreme right policies are setting the agenda in Dutch election due next Wednesday. Even the mainstream parties are using racist rhetoric to get rightwing votes as politicians turn to Turkey for their election material during their campaigns.
Authorities there cancelled meetings of Family and Social Policies Minister Fatma Betul Sayan in Hangelo and Wehl cities on Friday.
On Saturday, Foreign Minister Cavusoglu’s rally in Hoogvliet -- a borough of Rottterdam – was also stopped when the Netherlands announced it was canceling Cavusoglu's flight permit on grounds of "security" and "public safety".
Minutes later, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reacted with the statement: “How will your country’s [diplomatic] flights come here now after not granting permission to our foreign minister?”
Austrian authorities on Friday disallowed former Energy Minister Taner Yildiz from speaking at a book introduction program in Vorarlberg city. Municipal authorities expressed concern that political speeches would be made at the event.
Austria also cancelled three meetings of AK Party MP Muhammet Mufit Aydin due to "security concerns", which were scheduled on Saturday and Sunday in Linz, Herzogenburg and Wiener Neustadt, respectively.