President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called snap elections in Turkey for June 24. Photo: Ozan Kose / AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Austria and the Netherlands announced this week that any election campaigning in their countries by Turkish politicians ahead of the June 24 snap polls would be unwelcome and potentially blocked, sparking a backlash from Ankara.
“It is clear that the prime ministers of Austria and the Netherlands are not leaning on democratic values,” Turkey’s EU Affairs Minister Omer Celik wrote on Twitter Saturday.
“With this approach, Austria and Holland are poisoning democratic values in their own countries. By doing so, they are helping spread of racist political movements hostile to European Union values,” he added.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Wednesday that the country will hold snap elections on June 24.
Because of events inside and outside Turkey, rapid developments in Syria, and “at a time when we have to make very important decisions on all subjects – from macroeconomic equilibriums to large investments,” it is necessary to deal with the elections “immediately,” Erdogan declared.
The decision moves up parliamentary and presidential elections by a full year and a half.
On Friday, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said any campaign events among the country’s substantial Turkish diaspora would “not be welcome” and could be blocked.
“The Turkish leadership under Erdogan has for years tried to instrumentalize communities of Turkish origin in Europe; this has been the case for Erdogan’s campaign events and those of his supporters,” Kurz said.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte also said campaigns would be “undesirable.”
“They are Turkish elections, so the campaign should remain in Turkey,” he said.
Both countries opposed similar campaigning among the diaspora in March 2017 ahead of Turkey’s referendum on constitutional reform, which handed Erdogan sweeping new executive powers.
The Netherlands sparked a diplomatic row when it escorted a Turkish minister out of the country after campaigning provoked riots in the street of Rotterdam, and even barred Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu from entering.
Relations between Ankara and EU capitals deteriorated after the failed June 2016 coup and ensuing crackdown.