Minister: Austria 'ban' reports do not reflect reality

Tue 11 July 2017 06:22 GMT | 10:22 Local Time

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Turkish Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci rejects earlier reports of being barred from addressing expatriate coup event.

Reports that a senior Turkish official had been barred from visiting Austria for an event marking the first anniversary of last year’s coup attempt were rejected on Monday, according to Anadolu Agency.

Local and international media had reported the Austrian Foreign Ministry saying a visit by Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci could endanger “public order and security”.

However, in a statement released from Ankara later on Monday, Zeybekci said: “It is out of question that our minister would need to get permission from anybody to meet with our people in Austria or anyplace in the world.”

Media stories suggesting Zeybekci had not been allowed to enter Austria did not reflect reality, it added.

The statement confirmed that Zeybekci had a program to meet Austria’s foreign and economic affairs ministers to enhance trade and economic relations with the EU country.

"It does not even come to mind that a demand for a bilateral meeting could pose a problem in accordance with the simplest courtesy rules," it added.

Zeybekci was invited to an event to be held in Vienna next Sunday organized by the Union of European Turkish Democrats (UETD) to mark the anniversary of the July 15 coup attempt, which claimed 250 lives.

The Netherlands recently rejected a proposed visit by Deputy Prime Minister Tugrul Turkes for an event marking the failed coup’s anniversary.

Responding to the Dutch move, Turkey's Foreign Ministry said Turkish citizens abroad were organizing events to mark the coup bid "independent of our bilateral relations" with the countries where they live.

"The declaration made by the Netherlands is exemplary in that it shows the state of democracy in the country," a ministry statement read.

In recent months Turkey has strongly objected to European governments denying its officials permission to hold rallies or address expatriate citizens.

This included President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who last week wanted to address Turkish expats in Germany when he visited for the G20 summit, and several officials who were barred from addressing citizens ahead of Turkey’s April 16 constitutional referendum.

Germany undecided

Meanwhile, the German government on Monday said it had yet to decide on a request by Ankara for the participation of a Turkish politician in a coming coup event in Nuremberg.

Foreign Ministry deputy spokesman Rainer Breul told a news conference in Berlin the ministry was currently examining the Turkish request, but declined to give any more detail.

The UETD, one of the most influential Turkish diaspora organizations in Europe, is organizing a major event in Germany’s southern city of Nuremberg on Saturday, in memory of the victims of Turkey's July 15 coup attempt.

The German government adopted new rules earlier this month to restrict public appearances by foreign politicians during visits to the country.

According to the new rules, any public address at a political event requires German government approval, and a request should be sent at least 10 days before the planned activity.

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