Turkish government rejects criticism of election campaign
ISTANBUL - Turkey on Saturday lashed out at Austria and the Netherlands which announced any possible campaigning by parties for the June elections were not welcome, saying the move would harm "democratic values."
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called snap elections for June 24, bringing the polls forward by a year and a half.
Both Austria and the Netherlands have announced their governments would not look warmly to any possible campaigning on their soil by Turkish politicians.
"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.
"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 said, calling for common sense.
The early election will accelerate the transition to a new presidential system which critics fear will lead the way for one man rule.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said Friday any campaign events would "not be welcome" and would not be allowed.
"The Turkish leadership under Erdogan has for years tried to instrumentalise 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 any campaign events in the Netherlands were "undesirable."
"They are Turkish elections, so the campaign should remain in Turkey," he said, warning that any campaigning by Turkish politicians could cause public order in the Netherlands.
Last year, Turkey's relations with some of the EU member states including Germany, Austria and the Netherlands, took a strained turn after they banned rallies ahead of a constitutional referendum won by Erdogan.