Austria warns PM Erdoğan to ‘tone it down’ during visit

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Austria warned Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on June 12 not to say anything that may “split” Austrian society when he visits next week, following his contentious visit to Germany last month.

Erdoğan raised eyebrows last month when he made disparaging remarks about a German opposition leader of Turkish origin and spoke out against “assimilation” in a pugnacious speech in Cologne.

“I warn Prime Minister Erdoğan explicitly: he should not introduce splits in Austrian society,” Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz told Oesterreich daily on Friday.

“If he makes a positive speech and addresses the right things – learning German and being loyal to Austria – then he can help,” said Kurz, who was formerly Austria’s integration minister.

“But if he does the opposite, like he did in Germany, then he does damage not only to our majority population but also first and foremost to Turkish immigrants.”

Erdoğan is due in Vienna – home to many of Austria’s 250,000-strong Turkish community – on June 19.

The visit is seen by many as a bid to win overseas votes for an expected run for the presidency in August.

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