The right-wing and far-right candidates in France’s presidential election slammed yesterday the government’s go-ahead for a rally addressed by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in the eastern city of Metz.
Right-wing hopeful Francois Fillon accused incumbent Socialist President Francois Hollande of “flagrantly breaching European solidarity”.
Fillon said that France should have followed the example of Dutch authorities and banned the rally, which came ahead of a referendum in Turkey to widen the powers of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Ankara has threatened retaliation against the Dutch government, which on Saturday banned Cavusoglu from landing ahead of a planned rally and sent a second Turkish minister back to Germany after she crossed the border by car to stand in for him.
Austrian and German authorities have also moved to block campaign rallies for expatriate voters by Turkish ministers, leading Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Nurettin Canikli to accuse them of “crimes against humanity”.
Fillon said that two of France’s “closest allies”, Germany and the Netherlands, had been “publicly insulted in an unspeakable manner” by Turkish leaders.
A joint position “should have prevailed over meeting Turkish demands”, he argued.
Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, who is in first place in the opinion polls ahead of April’s first round of voting, also hit out at the government.
“Why should we tolerate talk on our soil that is refused by other democracies? No Turkish electoral campaign in France,” the National Front leader wrote on Twitter.
But French Foreign Minister Jean Marc Ayrault said that there was no reason to ban the rally “in the absence of any known threat to public order”.
The meeting was “covered by the freedom of assembly”, he said, while calling for calm in the dispute between Ankara and the countries that have opposed the rallies.
Turkey should “avoid excesses and provocations”, Ayrault added.
Ahead of the rally in a Metz conference centre, which was attended by hundreds of flag-waving Turkish citizens and went off without incident, Cavusoglu wrote on Twitter that an apology from the Netherlands “is not enough”.
Council of Europe constitutional law experts on Friday warned that the increased presidential powers proposed in the Turkish referendum risked installing a “one-person regime”.