German officials block pro-Erdogan rally by Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag

March 2, 2017 9:40 pm

This file photo taken on October 27, 2016 shows Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag speaking at a press conference at Turkish Embassy in Washington, DC. (Photo by AFP)

German officials have forbidden Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag from addressing President Tayyip Erdogan’s supporters in the town of Gaggenau amid a diplomatic row between the two countries.
They withdrew permission on Thursday for an event where Bozdag had planned to address a campaign rally in support of a controversial constitutional referendum to boost Erdogan’s executive powers.
Gaggenau officials said the venue chosen for the rally was too small for the expected crowd, citing security and parking concerns as reasons for scrapping the permission for the event.
Bozdag called the decision to withdraw the permit as “unacceptable,” reported Turkey’s state-run Anadolu agency.
The Turkish minister also protested to the cancellation of the pro-Erdogan rally in Gaggenau by dropping his planned meeting with German Justice Minister Heiko Maas, reports said. 
In a related development, Cologne city officials said they had pulled the permit for Turkey’s Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci to address a separate pro-Erdogan rally in the western city on Sunday.
The planned rallies to gain support from 1.4 million Turks in eligible to vote in an April 16 referendum on expanding Erdogan’s powers caused ire amid public outrage over Ankara’s arrest of a Turkish-German journalist Deniz Yucel.
Berlin-Ankara dispute
Germany is pressing Turkey to release Yucel, who works for German national daily newspaper Die Welt. He was detained in Istanbul in mid-February over a report about a hacker attack on the Turkish energy minister’s email account.
Yucel’s detainment has caused grave damage to bilateral relations, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said on Thursday in Kiev during a visit to Ukraine.
The Turkish ambassador to Germany was “summoned” to the German Foreign Ministry after a court in Istanbul ordered provisional detention for Yucel, urging Ankara to release the correspondent.
Gabriel said the German Foreign Ministry had spoken to the Turkish ambassador again, relaying to him the need for dialog.

This file photo taken on July 21, 2016 shows Deniz Yucel, Turkey correspondent of German newspaper “Die Welt” during a TV show in Berlin. (Photo by AFP)

In an open letter last month, some 170 German parliamentary lawmakers demanded the “quick” release of Yucel.
Relations between Berlin and Ankara have been strained by a series of disputes since a failed military coup that sought to oust Erdogan last July.
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