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Berlin blocks Erdogan Germany speech

BERLIN: Germany said yesterday it had rejected a request by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to address ethnic Turks living in Germany next week on the sidelines of a G20 summit, sparking an angry response from Ankara. Berlin-Ankara relations have badly deteriorated amid disputes over Turkey’s mass crackdown in the wake of a failed coup last year and a host of other rights issues.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said Berlin had received a request for Erdogan to be able to address members of the three-millionstrong Turkish diaspora in the EU country. “I explained weeks ago to my Turkish colleagues that we don’t think that would be a good idea,” Gabriel said during a Russia visit, pointing at stretched police resources around the July 7-8 summit G20 in Hamburg. “I also said quite frankly that such an appearance would not be appropriate given the current adversarial situation with Turkey,” he added, stressing that Erdogan would however be “received with honors” at the summit.

The Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement that “it is regrettable that German politicians make unacceptable remarks motivated it seems by political calculations”. The spokesman of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) led by Erdogan said there was “nothing more natural” than the president meeting Turks in Germany.

“The attitude of Germany is unacceptable,” AKP spokesman Mahir Unal told NTV television, adding that Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu would continue contacts on the issue. Gabriel said he could “understand” his Social Democratic Party’s chancellor-candidate Martin Schulz, who had said “foreign politicians who abuse our values must not be allowed to give inflammatory speeches in Germany”. — AFP

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