The file photo shows a view of the entrance to the Turkish Foreign Ministry building in Ankara.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry has summoned the German ambassador to Ankara to protest the cancellation of rallies in support of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ahead of the April 16 referendum when Turks will vote on whether to approve constitutional changes creating an executive presidency.
During a meeting between Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister for European Affairs Mehmet Kemal Bozay and German Ambassador Martin Erdmann on Thursday, a written démarche was handed to the German envoy.
“Our discomfort and our reaction to these developments have been communicated in person to the German ambassador who was summoned this evening to the ministry,” a senior Turkish official said on condition of anonymity.
The latest spat between Ankara and Berlin broke out when authorities in the southwestern German town of Gaggenau controversially withdrew permission for an event, where Turkey
’s Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag would have met with the Turkish community and his German counterpart Heiko Maas.
Gaggenau authorities said in a statement that as the town hall did not have the capacity to host so many people they had to withdraw an earlier agreement with the Union of European Turkish Democrats (UETD) to hold the rally.
“Because the event is now known across the region, the city expects a large number of visitors. However, the Bad Rotenfels hall (in Gaggenau), parking lots and access road are insufficient to meet that demand,” they stated.
“Due to these reasons, the hall rental agreement with the UETD has been revoked,” the town’s officials added.
Turkey’s Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag (Photo by Anadolu news agency)
Bozdag condemned the move in return, claiming it smacked of hypocrisy.
“Anti-democratic approaches, such as the annulment of my address using the parking space size as an excuse is unacceptable,” he told reporters while on an official visit to the French city of Strasbourg.
“It is unacceptable that German authorities, who constantly lecture us on human rights, democracy, rule of law, [and] free speech… do not tolerate a meeting organized by the Turkish community,” he noted.
Meanwhile, the German Press Agency (DPA), citing an official from the city of Cologne, said a March 5 event, where Turkish Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci would be holding a pro-Erdogan rally, has also been canceled.
On Wednesday, a group of German legislators urged Chancellor Angela Merkel to stop the Turkish president from entering the country while Deniz Yücel, a Turkish-German journalist for German national daily Die Welt, continues to be held in an Istanbul prison since February 14.
This file photo taken on July 21, 2016 shows Deniz Yucel, Turkey correspondent of Die Welt, during a TV show in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by AFP)
Germany’s Foreign Ministry summoned the Turkish Ambassador to Berlin Huseyin Avni Karslioulu on Tuesday, with Merkel describing the arrest as “bitter and disappointing”.
Relations between Turkey and Germany have soured following a series of disputes since a failed coup attempt to overthrow Erdogan last year.
Turkish officials say over 240 people were killed and more than 2,100 others injured following the botched July 15 putsch.
Tens of thousands of people, including military personnel, judges and teachers, have been suspended, dismissed or detained as part of the post-coup crackdown.