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HomeWorldTurkish minister heads to France amid overseas campaigning row

Turkish minister heads to France amid overseas campaigning row

By Gilbert Reilhac

STRASBOURG, France Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu is expected to address a public meeting in France on Sunday, a local official said, a day after the Netherlands barred his plane from landing in a row over Ankara’s political campaigning among Turkish emigres.

Cavusoglu is scheduled to speak in Metz, eastern France, at 1200 GMT, an official at the Moselle regional prefecture told Reuters on Saturday, adding that there were currently no plans to prevent the meeting from going ahead.

“Our job is to make sure there’s no threat to public order, and there is none,” the official said. French police will maintain a protective presence at the event

The gathering was also announced on Facebook by the Metz chapter of Ditib, a Turkish state-backed Islamic association.

Earlier on Saturday, the Netherlands barred Cavusoglu’s plane from landing in Rotterdam after the minister declared that he would fly there in spite of a decision by Dutch authorities not to authorize a planned rally.

Authorities in Germany, Austria and Switzerland have also banned Turkish campaign events in the escalating dispute.

Erdogan, who described the Dutch as “Nazi remnants” after Cavusoglu was turned away, has chafed at Western criticism of mass arrests carried out in the wake of a July coup attempt.

Erdogan is looking to Turkish émigrés across Europe to help clinch victory in the April 16 vote, which promises to shape the future of Turkey and its role as crucial NATO member in strategic proximity to the Middle East.

(Writing by Laurence Frost; Editing by Dominic Evans)