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The Latest: Dutch PM tells Turkey minister: ‘Don’t show up!’

BERLIN (AP) — The Latest on the growing tensions between Germany and Turkey (all times local):

9:25 p.m.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte says that apart from arresting a Turkish minister on arrival in the Netherlands, his government is giving the strongest possible hints to Ankara to not send its representatives to address any rallies on the upcoming Turkish referendum.

Rutte says any planned weekend visit by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu could only stir trouble between the two NATO allies.

While attending a European Union summit on Thursday, Rutte said: “This is the most serious thing we can do. You tell the foreign affairs minister of a NATO ally, ‘We know you will come to the Netherlands: Don’t show up!'”

Rutte added that local authorities would be unlikely to authorize any rally Cavusoglu would attend.

“And if you still decide to come, you won’t have a chauffeur driven car, no escort, no support,” he said.

Rutte says that while “there are people who will say, ‘you have to arrest him at Schiphol,’ but we will stop just short of that.”

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8:25 p.m.

Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister Bert Koenders the government considers a planned weekend visit by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu to be “undesirable,” and says the government will not extend any assistance if he goes ahead with plans for a Saturday visit.

Rotterdam’s mayor said a day earlier that he would likely ban a rally by Cavusoglu on public order grounds, due to tensions in the city’s Turkish community.

Koenders says the government “is responsible for public order and security of Dutch citizens, nobody else. That is why the Netherlands doesn’t want this to happen.”

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8:20 p.m.

The Swiss foreign ministry says a planned visit by Turkey’s foreign minister to Switzerland “does not currently pose a particularly high security threat” after a key regional authority expressed concerns.

The ministry said Thursday that nothing merits a ban of the visit of Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu to Zurich, Switzerland’s largest city, on Sunday.

It said Swiss federal security services looked into security risks following a request by Zurich regional authorities.

The concerns in Switzerland come amid recent friction between neighboring Germany and Turkey. The ministry cited Switzerland’s support for freedom of expression and said it expects countries like Turkey to do likewise, without elaborating.

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2 p.m.

Turkey’s foreign minister has defended Turkish comments accusing Berlin of “Nazi practices,” saying no German politician was being called a “Nazi.”

Mevlut Cavusoglu insisted Thursday that the German authorities’ cancellation of a series of rallies, which Turkish Cabinet ministers had planned to address in support of a referendum to increase the Turkish president’s powers, “were reminiscent” of that era.

“No one has said (German Chancellor Angela) Merkel is a Nazi or (German Foreign Minister) Signar Gabriel is a Nazi,” Cavusoglu said. “We have not called anyone a Nazi. Our President made a comparison in reference to certain practices.”

He added: “The trend in Europe at the moment reminds us of pre-World War II Europe.”

Earlier, Merkel said Turkish comments making comparison to “Nazi practices” cannot be tolerated.

About 1.4 million people of Turkish descent living in Germany are eligible to vote in the referendum.

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1:15 p.m.

The spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has lambasted Germany and other European nations for barring Turkish officials from campaigning in their countries, accusing them of raising tensions.

Speaking at a televised news conference in Ankara Thursday, Ibrahim Kalin said “a huge anti-Turkey, anti-Erdogan attitude is being systematically produced and serviced to the world, especially through Germany.”

The spokesman said the obstacles to rallies reveal a “tragicomedy” on attitudes towards the Turkish government and a meddling in Turkey’s upcoming referendum on constitutional changes.

Kalin argued that campaigners who rally for a “no” vote in Turkey’s upcoming referendum to expand the president’s powers “including the PKK and other terror organizations” can freely meet in Europe, but Turkish politicians cannot campaign for a “yes” vote.

“This is a worrying picture for Europe’s future and fundamental values,” the spokesman said.

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12:10 p.m.

Turkey’s foreign minister says he is willing to postpone plans to address Turkish citizens in the Netherlands until after the Dutch elections.

Mevlut Cavusoglu suggested on Thursday that Dutch officials feared campaigning by Turkish leaders for a “yes” vote in an upcoming referendum in Turkey to expand the presidential powers would affect the March 15 elections in the Netherlands.

Cavusoglu said he had told his Dutch counterpart that he would delay plans until after the Dutch elections if they ask him to. However, he said he would go ahead with his plans to hold a campaign rally in Rotterdam on March 11 if Dutch authorities continue to oppose campaigning by Turkish leaders even after the elections.

“If you oppose our meetings even after the elections then no one can stop me, I’ll go there on Saturday and hold my (campaign) meeting,” the state-run Anadolu quoted him as saying. “Even if you cancel the halls, I will find a place.”

A rally in support of a “yes” vote was cancelled in Rotterdam Wednesday amid security concerns. The Dutch government has called such rallies undesirable and anti-Islam populist Geert Wilders has said Cavusoglu was not welcome in the Netherlands.

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10:40 a.m.

Turkey’s prime minister says a state of emergency that was imposed following the failed coup attempt in July will be extended “for a bit longer.”

Turkey declared the state of emergency to facilitate its crackdown on the network of followers of U.S.-based Muslim Cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkey accuses of orchestrating the July 15 failed attempt. But critics say the government has used the emergency powers to crack down on all government critics.

The term of the emergency powers was due to expire next month.

Binali Yildirim told a group of foreign journalists on Thursday: “the state of emergency will continue for a bit longer.”

More than 41,000 people have been arrested since the coup, including scores of journalists. More than 100,000 people have been purged from the civil service.

Yildirim said the state of emergency was declared to oust Gulen’s followers from “all parts of the state administration and state agencies.

He insisted: “fundamental rights and freedoms were not restricted in any way.”

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10:35 a.m.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim says Germany is taking sides in Turkey’s upcoming referendum and that it’s a “grave mistake.”

Asked about German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s criticism of comments made by Turkey’s president accusing Germany of “Nazi practices.” Yildirim says Germany “may be disturbed” that a yes vote is likely on the referendum. He says if that’s true, it amounts to “meddling” in another country’s affairs and is “very wrong”

Yildirim said Thursday through a translator that Germany’s claim that it doesn’t meddle in others’ affairs is unconvincing. He added, “Tell that to someone else.”

Yildirim says Germany’s restrictions on Turkish politicians campaigning in Germany will have the opposite of Germany’s intended effect. He says the Turkish people are taking note.

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9:45 a.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says comments from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other Turkish officials accusing Berlin of “Nazi practices” cannot be tolerated.

Merkel told Parliament on Thursday that the remarks are “sad and incredibly misplaced” and are “not justifiable.”

She says “we will not allow the victims of the Nazis to be trivialized” by such comparisons.

Erdogan made the comment on the weekend after several German municipalities canceled events in which Turkish Cabinet ministers had planned to address rallies in Germany in support of a national referendum on constitutional reform that would give the Turkish president more powers. About 1.4 million people of Turkish descent living in Germany are eligible to vote in the referendum.


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