Political parties across Europe have the freedom to organize rallies and meetings in countries with a high population of their respective citizens yet those running the "no" campaign against Turkey's constitutional amendment, which will allow Turkey's government to switch from a parliamentary system to a presidential one, are faced with no difficulties in propagating their agenda, even receiving support in these European countries.
While countries with a high population of Turkish citizens including Germany, Austria and the Netherlands, prate about the freedom of speech, the recent cancellation of scheduled rallies for Turkish ministers in those countries has provoked a diplomatic and political scandal.
Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern asked the EU to ban the political rallies and meetings of Turkish politicians across Europe. Ministers of foreign affairs in EU countries who gathered in Brussels yesterday opposed to the Turkish reaction without mentioning the restriction of freedom of speech.
Commenting on the cancellation of scheduled visits from Turkish ministers and the Austrian chancellor's call to the EU, spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Maja Kocijancic told Daily Sabah that, "The issue of rallies falls under the competence of EU member states" without touching on the issue of freedom of speech. The EU's comments on everything that is happening in Turkey is considered a double standard in the context of the larger issue, which is the violation of fundamental democratic rights.
Germany's Foreign Affairs Minister Sigmar Gabriel said his duty is to normalize relations between Turkey and Germany, underscoring: "Relations are very tense and our challenge now is to normalize them."
The German minister said he believes that both sides will do their part to normalize relations again while defending his country's ban on the rallies of Turkish politicians, arguing that it is a matter for local administrations.
The opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), the pro-PKK Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) and terrorist organizations -- namely the PKK -- have chosen their political sides and are freely rallying in European countries where they have asked Turkish citizens to vote "no" in the upcoming referendum.
The controversy is something not recently seen in European politics. French Presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron recently campaigned in the U.K. where 300,000 French citizens live, organizing a rally that was allowed by U.K. authorities. Dutch politicians have also been allowed to organize rallies in Belgium, where thousands of Dutch citizens live, as well as U.K. politicians campaigning in Spain and France as well as other European countries where their citizens live.
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