Austria bars Turkish economy minister over rally plans

Vienna (AFP) –


Austria said Monday it had barred Turkish Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci from entering the country to attend a rally marking the anniversary of last year's failed coup attempt in Turkey.

"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 foreign ministry did not say when the rally was due to take place.

The move came three days after the Dutch government warned Turkey against sending its deputy premier, Tugrul Turkes, to address a rally in the eastern Netherlands this week to mark the abortive coup.

Ties between Ankara and the European Union have been strained over the crackdown that followed the July 15 2016 attempted coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Earlier this year, several countries including Austria and Germany banned pro-Ankara rallies ahead of a controversial referendum in April on granting Erdogan sweeping powers.

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.