The Justice and Development Party (AK Party) will strive to avoid any kind of squabble with European Union member states in the upcoming campaigning period for the early general and presidential elections on June 24.
Speaking to Daily Sabah on the issue, AK Party Istanbul Deputy Mustafa Yeneroğlu, who is also head of the AK Party's Overseas Electoral Coordination Center, said that the party will only focus on public relations and reach out to as many people as possible abroad.
Turkey and several European Union member states were locked in a crisis over the events of some AK Party politicians and ministers on European soil. Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Family Minister Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya, for example, were not allowed in the Netherlands.
Yeneroğlu stressed that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has so far not opted to instruct party authorities to prepare a program in Western Europe. "Bearing in mind that the tensions in recent years deteriorated relations, [he] gave us instructions to not magnify the issue and respect the sovereignty of the [European] countries even though they are being unjust," he said.
The head of the AK Party's Overseas Electoral Coordination Center asserted that the AK Party could hold rallies in Belgium or France if it wanted to. "He [President Erdoğan] did not have such an agenda. We are and will not be in a position to increase the tensions," he added.
Last week, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stated that he will hold a rally in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Commenting on the issue, Yeneroğlu said that the rally is not something extraordinary but part of a formal visit that was planned a long time ago.
"The president especially wanted to come together with the Bosnian youth. It was also deemed appropriate that he meet with the Turkish community in the Balkans. So we expanded the program. It was not something that was designed for the elections," Yeneroğlu said.
Underlining that Erdoğan is above all keen to be close to the Bosnians, Yeneroğlu said that it will be a festival-like program that will boost brotherly ties.
Following last year's tensions with EU states, Turkey has been mending ties in a new reconciliation process. "We did not hold back from calling European leaders and congratulating them when they held elections. Because we want to open a new page and want the ties to be better," Erdoğan told a group of journalists last week.
According to estimates, there are about 5.5 million Turkish citizens who live in Western European countries. In Germany alone, there are about three million Turkish citizens, making the country a critical stage for Turkish parties' election campaigns.
Providing further information about the details of the AK Party's electoral campaign abroad, Yeneroğlu said that the campaign is not only limited to Europe. "We are carrying out work in 123 regions across 60 countries. We have been making efforts regarding setting up the organization for a week," he said, adding that over 10,000 AK Party members will be assigned to reach out to as many people as possible to inform them about their democratic rights.
When asked about whether the election campaign abroad will be carried out in cooperation with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), with which the AK Party is set to enter the June 24 elections under the banner of the People's Alliance, Yeneroğlu said that the work will be done within the framework of the AK Party's own identity. "It has not been on our agenda so far, but it will for sure be discussed in the upcoming days. We will also carry out our campaign as part of the People's Alliance."
Last month, President Erdoğan announced the date of the early general and presidential elections after MHP Chairman Devlet Bahçeli called for snap elections. The two parties previously forged an alliance to enter both elections under the same umbrella.