Erdogan will campaign in EU city for June elections

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ISTANBUL, (Reuters) – Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday he was expecting to hold a campaign rally in a European city next month ahead of June elections despite a ban by some Western countries on Turkish politicians campaigning abroad.

“God willing, in May, we will hold our first meeting in a closed sports hall in Europe in a European country. All preparations are complete,” Mr Erdogan said in a speech to members of his ruling AK party.

He did not identify the European country.

Mr Erdogan has called snap parliamentary and presidential elections for June 24 so that Turkey can switch quickly to a new executive presidency system that was narrowly approved by a referendum last year.

Ahead of the referendum, Turkish ministers travelled to countries including Netherlands and Germany with sizable Turkish communities to gather support for the change, but authorities prevented them from campaigning there, citing security concerns.

After Mr Erdogan announced the elections last week, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who heads a right-wing coalition opposed to Turkey joining the European Union, said Mr Erdogan would be barred from “trying to exploit” Europe’s Turkish communities.

Germany, home to about three million people of Turkish origin, says it will not allow foreign politicians to campaign on German territory ahead of elections.

“Our view is clear. In the three-month period before elections in a foreign country, no election campaigning will take place in Germany,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters in Toronto, Canada.

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