Dictator Erdogan’s FM slams Austria’s top diplomat over remarks on referendum rally

Sebastian Kurz with Prime Minister of Kurdistan Region Nachirwan Bargain

ANKARA – Turkey has lashed out at Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz over his remarks on President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s planned rally in the country on the eve of an April 16 referendum, accusing the top diplomat of exceeding even “the most radical racist and xenophobic political parties” for his own personal political gain.

“The participation of Turkish nationals living abroad in the election process in Turkey is a democratic necessity. This process has nothing to do with Austrian domestic politics,” the Foreign Ministry said in a written statement late on Feb. 27. The message came in response to Kurz’s statement that Erdoğan would not be wanted in Austria if his intention was to hold a public rally.

Kurz’s statement does not comply with the universal principles of democracy, said the statement, describing the Austrian foreign minister’s approach as irresponsible.

“On the contrary to Kurz’s claims, what damages the integration [of Turks living in Austria] is discriminatory and divisive rhetoric to prevent Turkish nationals from using their democratic rights,” the ministry said, adding that it was concerning that the approach belonged to a minister who was responsible for integration issues.

“It has been observed that Kurz, who has even exceeded political parties with racist and anti-Islam approaches, is trying to create an agenda by using our country for his personal political gain,” it said.

The statement approved the position of Austrian Prime Minister Christian Kern, who approves the right to assembly and to demonstrate, and expressed Turkey’s belief that universal values and common sense would prevail in Austria’s political culture.