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Germany bans 'yes' rallies, but continues propaganda for 'no' at full speed

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
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Bild’s headline in both German and Turkish. translated as: “Referendum in Turkey: Atatürk would say ‘no’.”
Bild’s headline in both German and Turkish. translated as: “Referendum in Turkey: Atatürk would say ‘no’.”

German politicians and media sources continue to interfere with Turkey's constitutional referendum process by trying to steer Turkish voters' preference to "no," even though they previously banned Turkish ministerial meetings on the basis of "carrying Turkey's internal politics into Germany"

The leader of Germany's Green party has urged the Turkish citizens in Germany and Turkey to vote "no" in the upcoming referendum, while yesterday, German newspaper Bild published a controversial article asserting that Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder of the Republic of Turkey, would have voted "no" if he was still alive. The most recent examples of Germany's favor for the "no" front and its interference with the Turkish referendum drew strong reactions on social media from Turkish users.

German officials have imposed bans on "yes" meetings and the rallies of Turkish ministers on the grounds that they were meddling with the country's internal affairs. Cem Özdemir, the co-chair of Alliance '90/The Greens, shared a video on his Facebook page, which starts with the word "merhaba" — the Turkish word "hello" — and continues, "Please, vote 'no' in the upcoming election." The voting in Turkey would also affect whether the Turkish community would be able "to peacefully live in Germany," Özdemir claims in the video, implying that the 1.4 million Turkish citizens living in the country could face difficulties if they vote "yes" in the referendum.

Özdemir's attitude also received a serious reaction from German politician, Thomas Bareiss, the deputy of the ruling Christian Democrats (CDU). He said that Özdemir's directive behaviors toward Germany's Turkish communities' referendum preferences carries Turkey's referendum process into Germany, which is "madness and dangerous to the highest degree." Another point to underline is the fact that the more Germany meddles in Turkey's internal affairs by standing against the constitutional reform, the higher the "yesvotes for presidential system get.

Previously, Claudia Roth, former Green Party co-chair and current vice president of Bundestag, also declared her support to "no" votes by publishing a post on her Facebook account that says, "HAYIR" — "no" in Turkish.

In an earlier interview with the German Welt am Sonntag newspaper, Cem Özdemir, who is of Turkish-Circassian descent, said that he cannot understand how Turks in Germany could vote "yes."

The majority of commenters on Özdemir's Facebook page were against the German politician's suggestion.

The most liked viewer comment said, "If you are so interested in Turkish politics, just go to Turkey." Other comments, which were liked by more than 1,200 people, urged the politician to set his "double standard attitude" aside and instead focus on Germany's own problems.

German newspaper, Bild, also published a controversial article by asserting that Mustafa Kemal Atatürk would also vote for "no," if he was still alive. On Bild's website, the article was published with a large picture of Atatürk, with the headline: "Referendum in Turkey: Atatürk would say 'no'," in both German and Turkish.

Germany's attitude is reflected throughout most of the EU. On March 13, Swiss newspaper Blick set aside its entire first page to address the Turkish community in Switzerland, urging them to back the "no" campaign with the controversial headline: "Vote no against Erdoğan's dictatorship." Basel's annual Morgestraich carnival, held in the first week of March, also featured lanterns depicting controversial cartoons of Turkish people and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, a jab at Erdoğan's supporters and "yes" voters in the upcoming April 16 referendum.

President Erdoğan previously slammed the recent bans on Turkish ministerial meetings in Europe, pointing to the EU's preferential treatment shown to the "no" campaign, while "yes" campaign meetings were prohibited in Germany and the Netherlands.

Turkey-EU relations have been severely strained following a series of bans on Turkish officials' visits for the referendum campaign in Germany, the Netherlands and Austria.

On Saturday, President Erdoğan said Turkey may hold a referendum on whether to continue the European Union accession talks after the April 16 referendum.

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