June 30, 2017
BERLIN (AP) — Germany is clamping down on election rallies by foreign officials following a spat with Turkey ahead of that country’s constitutional referendum, the government said Friday. All embassies were informed Friday that they will have to apply for permission to stage political rallies addressing their citizens in Germany, Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer said.
Permission will automatically be denied if the country in question is scheduled to hold an election within three months of the rally, Schaefer said. Other countries in the 28-nation European Union will be exempt from the rule.
Earlier this year, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Germany, and Chancellor Angela Merkel, of “committing Nazi practices” after some local authorities blocked appearances by Turkish ministers hoping to campaign ahead of Turkey’s referendum on expanding the president’s powers.
The German government said its new rule is a consequence of that dispute, though Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel insisted that it is not specific to Turkey. He also pointed to rules inside Germany that prevent German politicians from visiting public institutions, such as police stations or schools, in the three months before the country’s own elections.
Germany announced Thursday that it would deny permission for Erdogan to address Turks when he visits for the upcoming Group of 20 meeting in Hamburg. Germany’s relations with Turkey have been frayed by a widening range of issues that also include Turkey’s jailing of two German journalists.