Erdogan warns Europeans 'will not walk safely' if current attitude persists
With Turkey embroiled in a diplomatic row with Germany and Netherlands over the barring of campaigning for support for the April referendum, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that Europeans across the world would not be able to "walk safely on the streets if they kept up their current attitude". At an event for local journalists in Ankara, Erdogan said: "If Europe continues this way, no European in any part of the world can walk safely on the streets. We, as Turkey, call on Europe to respect human rights and democracy."
Turkey goes to referendum on April 16, and Turkish officials have been campaigning in Germany and the Netherlands to draw up support from Turkish expatriates. But Germany and Netherlands have barred such campaign appearances by these officials in their countries. Earlier in March, Erdogan had lashed out at the campaigning ban by Germany and compared it to "Nazi practices". Several German towns have prevented appearances by Erdogan's ministers, citing security and safety concerns. The cancellations have infuriated the Turkish government, which accused Berlin of working against the "Yes" campaign in the referendum and summoned the German ambassador to the foreign ministry in protest.
"You will lecture us about democracy and then you will not let this country's ministers speak there," Erdogan had said. Earlier on Tuesday, Turkish leaders said they will not hold any further campaign rallies in Germany before the referendum after an ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel said they were not welcome. Meanwhile, a German foreign ministry source reportedly said it should allow a peaceful start to voting by some 1.4 million Turkish citizens living in Germany who are eligible to vote in the referendum. The referendum, which will be held on April 16, will put to vote 18 proposed amendments to the Turkish Constitution.
One of them would be to set up an executive presidency which would replace the existing parliamentary system. Many believe that the proposed amendments would give total control in the hands