German authorities have canceled another Turkish rally in support of increasing the powers of Turkey’s president in Hamburg, where Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was supposed to deliver a speech.
Citing fire safety regulations, local authorities in Hamburg provisionally annulled the event, during which Cavusoglu would address some 250 supporters, the website of German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported.
“Considerable shortcomings in fire protection” issues had led to the decision, Hamburg police said Monday.
The cancellation came after police earlier rejected reports that they were set to abolish the rally. They also left the door open for the Turkish minister to hold the demo at another location.
The Turkish foreign minister was reportedly attempting to secure another location.
Last week, Berlin blocked three Turkish ministers’ scheduled appearances aimed at gathering support for a “yes” vote in Turkey’s April referendum on constitutional reforms, which have been long sought by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
If adopted, a presidential system of government would replace the parliamentary one in Turkey, giving executive powers to the president and abolishing the position of prime minister.
The cancellation of pro-Erdogan rallies in Germany has triggered diplomatic tensions between Ankara and Berlin.
Erdogan, on Sunday, accused Germany of “fascist actions” reminiscent of Nazi practices. Turkey also said it would go ahead with campaign events in Germany regardless of the ban.
Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday slammed Erdogan’s remarks, saying his claims were “out of place.”
Cavusoglu has also accused Germany of working to sabotage the rallies.
“The hotels, the conference halls are being put under pressure; police are being sent to the owners of these places: it’s systematic pressure, a maneuver aimed at erecting systematic barriers,” he said on Monday.
“The state and the state-run institutions are all implicated. That’s unacceptable. As for us, we will take the necessary measures. We have no fear of anyone,” the minister added.
Other German authorities have cited capacity problems in hosting the events, which they said were likely to attract large crowds.
Politicians in other European countries have also urged bans on any pro-Erdogan campaigning ahead of the Turkish referendum.
NATO has launched extensive military exercises in Norway’s northern region of Finnmark, some 300 kilometers from the Russian border.
The Western military alliance’s Joint Viking 2017 drills kicked off on Monday, with the presence of around 8,000 troops from the UK, US, and Norway. The military exercises are scheduled to last until March 15.
According to a statement released by the Norwegian Armed Forces, the main goals are practicing for the country’s defense and crisis management.
Before joining their Norwegian counterparts, the British and American troops engaged in preparatory climatization exercises to ready them for Norway’s harsh weather conditions.
“The Armed Forces will have a lot of activity in the air, with fighter jets, helicopters and transport aircraft. To ensure safety in the air, we therefore introduced a drone ban,” said a Norwegian military spokesman.
In January, the US deployed nearly 300 Marines to Norway, prompting serious warnings from Moscow.
NATO has been deploying weapons and equipment in the Baltic States – Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia — to curb what it refers to as “Russia’s aggression.”
- US deploys troops to Norway despite warnings from Russia
- Lithuania hails arrival of German NATO battalion
- Germany sending troops to Baltics as part of NATO’s anti-Russia force
The US-led alliance’s expansion sped up after the two sides cut ties in 2014, when the Ukrainian-controlled Black Sea peninsula of Crimea joined Russia in a referendum.
Moscow is seriously wary of the US-led alliance’s military buildup near its borders. In response to the aggressive measures, Russia has beefed up its southwestern military capacity, deploying nuclear-capable Iskander-M missiles to its Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad bordering Poland and Lithuania.
A screen grab from footage released by the Norwegian Armed Forces showing NATO’s Joint Viking 2017 drills on March 6, 2017.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker says Europe must not give in to threats by US Defense Secretary James Mattis that Pentagon could scale back its pledge to defend Europe if US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member states do not increase military spending.
“It has been the American message for many, many years. I am very much against letting ourselves be pushed into this,” Juncker said in a speech on the sidelines of the international Munich Security Conference on Thursday.
“I don’t like our American friends narrowing down this concept of security to the military,” he said, highlighting that it would be levelheaded to consider a “modern stability policy” that consists of several components.
“If you look at what Europe is doing in defense, plus development aid, plus humanitarian aid, the comparison with the United States looks rather different. Modern politics cannot just be about raising defense spending,” Juncker said.
“Europeans must bundle their defense spending better and spend the money more efficiently,” he added.
The remarks came a day after Mattis warned that the amount of American support for NATO could depend on whether other countries meet their own spending commitments.
“Americans cannot care more for your children’s future security than you do. I owe it to you to give you clarity on the political reality in the United States and to state the fair demand from my country’s people in concrete terms,” he said in a speech to NATO allies in the Belgian capital city of Brussels on Wednesday.
He added that “America will meet its responsibilities,” noting that American support had its limits.
US President Donald Trump has called NATO “obsolete,” demanding members of the transatlantic organization to either pay up for US support or rely on their own military power.