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News ID: 8160
Asia » Asia
Publish Date: 19:35 - 07 March 2017
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Tuesday he would go ahead with a planned visit to Germany despite local authorities' banning him from making a speech on safety grounds.
Turkish foreign minister to head to Germany in rally row
The comments came amid a row over the stopping of events in Germany attended by Turkish officials to boost support among expat voters for a referendum in April.
"I am going to Hamburg today," Cavusoglu told foreign countries' chief consuls, including Germany's, in Istanbul. "I will meet this evening with our citizens in Hamburg."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          He added: "Nobody can and should prevent us from meeting with our citizens."
Local authorities in Germany had called off a rally in the northern city of Hamburg where Cavusoglu was due to speak, citing fire safety concerns.
But the Turkish foreign ministry told AFP a new venue had been found, and Hamburg police confirmed Cavusoglu would meet 150 people from the Turkish community on Tuesday night at the residence of the consul general.
A demonstration calling for a "No" vote in the referendum has meanwhile been planned nearby.
Cavusoglu said he would meet Wednesday with his German counterpart Sigmar Gabriel, whom he called a "friend", at a breakfast in Berlin and visit a tourism fair.
Tensions have been mounting between NATO allies Turkey and Germany over the past week after the cancellation of several rallies where Turkish cabinet ministers were due to whip up support for a "yes" vote in the April 16 referendum.
Erdogan escalated the crisis over the weekend, likening the cancellations to "Nazi practices," drawing a sharp response from Berlin.
He also warned Germany not to block him from making an appearance if he wished.
Chancellor Angela Merkel's office firmly rejected the Nazi jibe as "absurd and out of place".
Cavusoglu said the rally cancellations were "unacceptable" and reminiscent of practices in the run-up to World War II.
He criticized Germany and several other European countries including the Netherlands, where politicians including Prime Minister Mark Rutte have condemned Cavusoglu's plans to attend a similar rally in Rotterdam.
"We are in a state of great fear," Cavusoglu said. "If we cannot stop the advance of racist parties, Europe will head (back) to the pre-World War II period."
Turkish EU Affairs Minister Omer Celik spoke Tuesday with Michael Roth, state secretary at Germany's foreign ministry, sources in Celick's ministry said.
"Turkish-German relations are not local authorities' responsibility but that of the German state," Celik told Roth, according to the sources, AFP reported.
"We believe this is a systematic obstacle to our government."

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