Hollande, Merkel to Turkey: Respect our law in referendum campaign events

French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have said Turkey should obey French and German laws in campaign rallies for the upcoming referendum on shifting to an executive presidential system.

Hollande said on March 16 that he agreed with Merkel that future events organized in the two countries for the Turkish referendum campaign could take place “provided they adhere to French and German laws.”  
 
Germany banned several planned rallies by Turkish ministers, triggering a diplomatic spat between the two countries, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan describing the bans as “fascist.” He has also decried the Dutch authorities as “Nazi” for blocking a Turkish minister’s meeting last weekend. 

Merkel and Hollande said in a joint statement that it was “unacceptable” for Ankara to make such “Nazi” remarks. 

They stated that they had discussed the matter in depth, with Hollande expressing France’s solidarity with Germany and other EU countries dubbed as “Nazis” or “fascists” by the Turkish government.

Hours before the statement, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu raised eyebrows by saying Europe will soon be the site of “holy wars.” 

“When you look at the many parties you see there is no difference between the social democrats and fascist [Geert] Wilders. All have the same mentality. Where will you go? Where are you taking Europe? You have begun to collapse Europe. You are dragging Europe into the abyss. Holy wars will soon begin in Europe,” Çavuşoğlu said on March 16, in Ankara’s first comment on the general election in the Netherlands that saw the victory of Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s Liberal VVD. 

“They killed each other 100 years ago because they were of different faiths,” he added, without elaborating.

“But they learned a lesson from this and then set up the European Union and the Council of Europe,” he added. 

For his part, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said Ankara has influenced the election in the Netherlands by helping counter rising racism. 

“Europe is doing its politics according to Turkey. Look at the Netherlands. Turkey affected [the election] there. Racism in Europe has been suspended for some time. But these hostile policies will not lead you to the right conclusion,” Yıldırım said at a rally in the Central Anatolian province of Çankırı.

“Some countries say ‘European values’ and ‘human rights,’ but we saw their real faces last week. When it comes to Turkey, we see how they are a dictatorship engaged in repressive practices,” he added.

Yıldırım said the Netherlands and Germany “appear to be pro-freedom” but in reality apply bans, accusing them of “protecting terrorists” while barring Turkish politicians from delivering speeches.

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