Turkish Minister At Centre of Diplomatic Row Addresses Crowds in France

The Turkish minister at the centre of a diplomatic row with the Netherlands has addressed a crowd in the northern French city of Metz, hoping to raise support for controversial constitutional reforms designed to hand greater powers to the Turkish President.

Supporters draped in Turkish flags met Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu with cries of “Turkey” and “God is great” as he arrived at Metz’s Centre des Congres, echoing scenes in Rotterdam last night where pro-Turkish protestors gathered to condemn the Dutch authorities for refusing Çavuşoğlu permission to attend a similar rally in the city.

Alain Carton, secretary general of the Metz prefecture, explained that France had not applied a similar ban because the event posed no threat to public order, and must therefore be allowed to go ahead in the name of freedom of assembly.

A man raises up a placard on March 12, 2017 at the congress hall in the French eastern city of Metz during a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. Photo: JEAN-CHRISTOPHE VERHAEGEN/AFP/Getty Images

Around a hundred people turned up to support the Turkish minister. Their number is thought to have included Turkish expats travelling in from nearby German towns in support.

Turkish officials have scheduled a series of events across Europe designed to garner the votes of the European Turkish population, leading to strained diplomatic tensions between the country and a number of European states.

Last week the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused German officials of “Nazi practices” after a number of German municipalities took the decision to cancel similar rallies. One town was hit with a bomb threat following their

It was a slur he repeated against the Dutch following a similar ban on ministers attending rallies in the Netherlands. Erdoğan refused to apologise for accusing the Dutch government of “Nazism and fascism,” saying only those types of regimes would bar foreign ministers from traveling within their countries.

Çavuşoğlu told reporters in Metz on Sunday that the Turkish authorities planned further remonstrations against the bans, having already barring the Dutch ambassador from returning to Turkey. “We have other steps in mind. We’ve already begun planning them. We will certainly take those steps and more,” he said.

The diplomatic row has sparked protests and rioting by Turkish nationals in both Rotterdam and Istanbul.

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