Kurds rally in Frankfurt with signs reading ‘No to dictatorship’ on March 18. Photo: dpa/AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Turkey has accused Europe of double standards after it permitted a large Kurdish new year event that turned into a political rally with PKK flags after banning Turkish officials from campaigning in the country in advance of a referendum in April on constitutional amendments that would introduce a powerful presidential system.
More than 30,000 Kurds joined a Newroz rally in Frankfurt on Saturday that turned political with attendees chanting slogans such as “terrorist Erdogan” and “freedom for Ocalan,” and encouraging a ‘no’ vote in the referendum, German news outlet Deutsche Welle reported.
Germany recently banned symbols connected with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a named terrorist organization in Europe, including images of jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan. Deutsche Welle reported that police asked some protesters to stop flying Ocalan flags in light of the ban, but none were seized.
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry condemned Germany authorities for permitting the rally, describing it as “thought-provoking” that symbols of a named terrorist organization were displayed. “We condemn this insincere attitude,” the ministry said, according to Hurriyet Daily News.
Rallies planned by Turkish authorities and expected to be attended by Turkish ministers in Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands in advance of the referendum were blocked with the European authorities citing security concerns.
“A Turkish campaign has no business being here in Germany,” German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere told local media.
Chancellor Angela Merkel said Berlin did not oppose Turkish ministers attending rallies in Germany so long as they were “duly announced.”
Turkey’s presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin said it was “not possible for German authorities to claim that Turkey’s elected representatives meeting with their citizens is dangerous as they treat terrorists as legitimate actors,” Hurriyet Daily News reported. Kalin said it was “clear support for terrorism.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a rally in Istanbul on Sunday that the “masquerade ball” was Europe was over.
“They set aside diplomacy. They do not have the urge to hide their intentions any cannot hide the discomfort they feel from Turkey, which is growing stronger,” Erdogan said, accusing European nations of overtly supporting the ‘no’ campaign.
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim accused European nations of siding with terrorists.
“The events happening in Europe show us that the big plan is in Europe. Germany, Austria and Switzerland are meeting together and hosting the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) well,” he said at a referendum campaign event on Sunday.
“The success of the yes vote will compromise the interests of a number of internal and external people and parties. Republican People's Party (CHP), which is the country’s opposition party, has joined hands with the PKK, Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) and the Fethullah Gülen Group. Their whole objective is to forestall the realization of permanent stability and a strong authority in Turkey,” he added.
An estimated 1.4 million Turks living in Germany are eligible to vote in the referendum.