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Turkey Slams Austria's 'Irresponsible' Referendum Approach


A man holds a flag showing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that read's "Learning from Erdogan means learning how to win" during Prime Minister Binali Yildirim's speech in Oberhausen, Germany, on February 18.

A man holds a flag showing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that read's "Learning from Erdogan means learning how to win" during Prime Minister Binali Yildirim's speech in Oberhausen, Germany, on February 18.

Turkey has criticized Austria's "double-standard" and "irresponsible" approach to potential campaigning by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the EU member state ahead of a referendum in April to increase his powers.

Erdogan is reportedly planning to campaign in several EU countries with large Turkish minorities before the vote on April 16.

Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz said Erdogan was "not welcome" to hold campaign events, adding that it would "increase friction" in Austria and prevent the integration of a 360,000-strong minority of Turkish origin.

"We do not accept those irresponsible comments that exceed their limits and the distorted mentality," Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Huseyin Muftuoglu said in a statement late on February 27.

Kurz's comments were a "new example of a biased and double-standard approach", he added.

Turkey will hold an April 16 plebiscite on changing the constitution to give Erdogan an executive presidency along the lines of that in France or in the United States.

The Turkish government says the changes would bring stability while opponents fear it would hugely boost Erdogan's powers and drag Turkey into one-man rule.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim earlier this month held a campaign rally in Germany, which also has a substantial Turkish minority.

Austria has favored freezing talks with Ankara on eventual European Union membership and is one of the several countries that have voiced concern at a government crackdown, including mass arrests, since last July's coup attempt.

Based on reporting by AFP and BBC
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