Europeans trying to stall Turkish campaign

Published 06.03.2017 23:18
Updated 07.03.2017 01:22

Prohibiting meetings to inform Turkish people living in European countries about the upcoming referendum simply sharpens the anti-Europe rhetoric in Turkish society

Nearly 2 million Turks will be voting in various European countries for the upcoming April 16 referendum on a constitutional change that will usher Turkey into a presidential system.

This means Turkish campaigners have to reach out to these voters and explain what is at stake.

However, European governments are banning Turkish politicians from addressing Turks in their countries for the campaign.

German municipalities have prevented Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ and Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekçi from addressing Turks in some city halls. The Netherlands told Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu he could not come to Holland to address a Turkish gathering on the referendum. In fact, Austria has asked the European Union to issue a ban against the campaigning Turkish politicians from entering the EU zone.

All of these happenings are regarded as acts of enmity by the Turkish public and have angered the Turkish administration.

Many Turks feel that the Fetullah Gülen gang and the PKK terrorist group have been effective in influencing German politicians to take a stand against Turkish ministers. The ministers want to address the Turks in various European countries to convince them to cast their votes in the referendum to approve the new presidential system.

There is a general belief that the European leaders feel that they can no longer control Turkey and force Ankara to accept their own policies and, thus, are trying to stall President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

In essence, there seems to be an "Erdoğanphobia" in Europe that is also influencing these decisions. No one understands that they have to live with the Erdoğan reality.

As a result, Europeans are saying they do not want Turkey's internal political bickering to spill over into their own provinces, resulting in the prevention of Turkish campaigns in their respective countries. They say Turks should be more involved in the politics of their host countries where they are citizens, yet they also have to appreciate that Turks also have the right to vote in the referendum and in other elections in Turkey. Therefore, they should be given the chance to learn the issues involved and to vote accordingly.

Banning Turkish politicians or harassing them is the wrong way of doing things. All it does is alienate the Turkish public, sharpen the anti-European rhetoric in Turkey and portray the Turkish administration as the victim of an unjust campaign — which in the end will lead many Turks to cast a reactionary "yes" vote.

The Turkish public wants to know why the PKK and opposition politicians can freely hold rallies in Germany while the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) can't. Additionally, they want to know why Germans allowed PKK leaders to address a rally crowd in Germany via satellite and why President Erdoğan was prevented to do the same to a Turkish rally crown in Cologne after the failed blood coup of July 15.

Ankara should not try to influence Turks on how they vote in German elections. Likewise, Germans should not try to influence Turks in Europe on how they should vote in the April 16 referendum.

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