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October 15, 2019
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Turkey blasts Austria’s ‘irresponsible’ referendum stance

ISTANBUL: Turkey has slammed Austria’s “double standard” and “irresponsible” approach to potential campaigning by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the EU member state ahead of April’s referendum.

Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz said Erdogan is “not welcome” to hold campaign events, adding that it would “increase friction” in Austria and prevent the integration of a 360,000-strong minority of Turkish origin.

“We do not accept those irresponsible comments that exceed their limits and the distorted mentality,” Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Huseyin Muftuoglu said in a statement late on Monday.

Kurz’s comments are a “new example of a biased and double standard approach”, he added.

Turkey will hold an April 16 referendum on changing the constitution to give Erdogan an executive presidency along the lines of that in France or in the United States.

The Turkish government says the changes would bring stability while opponents propagating it would hugely boost Erdogan’s powers and drag Turkey into one-man rule.

Speaking in Vienna on Monday, Kurz said his government was clearly against bringing the “the Turkish campaign and (the resulting) polarisation to Austria” in remarks deemed as “worrying” by the Turkish foreign ministry.