VIENNA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is “not welcome” to hold campaign events in Austria ahead of the upcoming referendum that will decide whether the current parliamentary system should be shifted into an executive presidency, Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz said on Feb. 27.
Kurz said Erdoğan campaigning ahead of the April 16 referendum would “increase friction” in Austria and “hinder the integration” of the country’s 360,000-strong Turkish origin minority, which includes 117,000 Turkish citizens.
“Campaign events are not welcome. Of course the Turkish president, like other senior politicians, can make bilateral visits to Europe and Austria for talks with top officials. But we clearly reject bringing the Turkish campaign and polarization to Austria,” he was quoted as saying in a Foreign Ministry statement.
The statement quoted Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, who himself held a rally in the German city of Oberhausen on Feb. 18, as saying that Erdoğan planned to campaign in a number of European Union countries.
Turkey will hold a referendum in mid-April to decide whether to change the government system into an executive presidency with vastly enhanced powers for the president or to protect the current parliamentary system.
The “yes” vote is endorsed by Erdoğan, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), while the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) are campaigning for a “no” vote.
Meanwhile, the leader of a new party set up at the end of last year by the Turkish community in Austria has said it expects to contest elections in 2019.
The center-right New Movement for the Future was established in December with Adnan Dinçer as party chairman. It aims to combat the growth of the far-right in Austria and represent migrants from around the world.
“We want to stand in the elections with a professional team,” Dinçer told Anadolu Agency. “We do not have to run for the 2018 legislative election, we can be prepared well and take part in the local elections that will be held in 2019 or 2020.”__Hurriyet