Germany: we reserve the right to bar Turkish campaigners

Thursday, March 16, 2017

BERLIN -- Germany's government reserves the right to impose entry bans on Turkish officials hoping to campaign in the country, though the measure would be a "last resort," Chancellor Angela Merkel's chief of staff said Wednesday.

Peter Altmaier's comments followed days of escalating tensions between Turkey and two European Union nations, Germany and the Netherlands, over Turkish politicians' hopes to campaign there ahead of their country's constitutional referendum next month.

At the European Parliament, EU leaders voiced solidarity with the Netherlands and condemned Nazi parallels drawn by Turkish officials.

But Turkey's president lashed out again at the Dutch, repeating an assertion they were responsible for the slaughter of Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica in 1995 and saying "they have nothing to do with the civilized world; they have nothing to do with the modern world."

Turkey reacted furiously last week to some local German authorities' decisions to block appearances by Turkish ministers, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accusing Germany of "Nazi practices."

In recent days, Erdogan has labeled the Netherlands as "Nazi remnants" after it prevented two Turkish ministers from making campaign appearances.

Germany's federal government so far has said it won't impose a blanket ban, though the governor of Saarland state -- which holds a regional election March 26 -- said Tuesday she wants to prevent any such rallies there.

It appears none was planned.

Altmaier told the Funke newspaper group Germany, like every other country, has the right to prevent members of foreign governments from entering.

He said he couldn't remember that ever happening in Germany.

Altmaier said over the past 10 years, Turkish politicians' campaign appearances in Germany have been in line with German laws.

He noted the Nazi parallels thus far have been drawn in Turkey, not in Germany.

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