Berlin: Chancellor Angela Merkel is facing calls to ban Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, from entering Germany while a German journalist continues to be held in an Istanbul prison.
Erdogan, who campaigned in Germany in 2011 and 2014, was rumoured to be planning a political rally to secure the symbolically important diaspora votebefore April’s referendum in Turkey on giving him greater powers, reports the Guardian.
But Merkel’s government is under increasing pressure from German coalition and opposition parties to stand up to the Turkish president after the Turkey correspondent of Die Welt newspaper, Deniz Yücel, last month became the first German citizen to be arrested as part of Erdogan’s crackdown on the press.
But on Wednesday, Merkel’s spokesman said a ban would send the wrong signal.
Steffen Seibert said: “The German government deplores the fact that freedom of speech and freedom of the press are currently limited in Turkey to an unacceptable degree.
“If we deplore this in another country, then we should be even more alert to make sure that freedom of speech is respected, within the framework of the law, in our own country. We should demonstrate what we demand from others.”
In the referendum on April 18, the Turkish public will vote on proposed changes that would boost the powers of the president, allowing Erdogan to scrap the post of prime minister, control budgets, appoint more judges and stay in office for two more terms.
The support of the Turkish diaspora in Germany, a community of about 1.4 million people, holds an important symbolic significance to Erdogan’s party.