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Austria barres Turkish minister from rally on failed coup anniversary

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Austria has barred Turkish economy minister Nihat Zeybekci from entering the country to attend an event marking the anniversary of last year’s failed coup in Turkey, a spokesman for Austria’s foreign ministry said on Monday.

“He has been barred because his visit was not planned as part of a bilateral exchange, but was about his public appearance at an event marking the coup attempt,” foreign ministry spokesman Thomas Schnoell told AFP.

Zeybekci’s attendance would have represented a “danger for public order”, he said.

The decision follows a similar move by the Netherlands, which said on Friday that Turkish deputy prime minister Tugrul Turkes was not welcome to visit for a ceremony among Turkish expatriates to commemorate the anniversary.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan also complained last week that he was not allowed to speak to Turks in Germany during his visit to the country for a G20 leaders’ summit, telling a newspaper that Germany was “committing suicide”.

Austria has been one of the most vocal critics in the European Union of Turkey’s security crackdown since the failed coup last July in which 240 people were killed. Vienna has repeatedly called for Turkey’s EU accession talks to be stopped.

Turkish ministers had been heading to Europe to whip up support for a “yes” vote among millions of Turkey’s voters who live abroad.

Some 360,000 people of Turkish origin live in Austria, including 117,00 Turkish citizens. Many are believed to be pro-Erdogan supporters whose vote helped him win the referendum.

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Neha Katoch

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