Greece bars CHP group from electioneering within its borders

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A handout picture taken and released on May 19, 2018 by the press office of the Republican People's Party shows Presidential candidate of Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), Muharrem Ince distributing flowers to supporters before an election campaign rally in Samsun, Turkey. / AFP PHOTO / Republican People's Party (CHP) Press Service / Ziya KOSEOGLU

Greece refused entry to a large number of Republican People’s Party (CHP) politicians to campaign for upcoming Turkish elections after allowing CHP presidential candidate Muharrem İnce and a small group accompanying him into the country.

According to the T24 news website, İnce and CHP Vice Chairman Engin Altay were among the first group that entered Greece and started holding rallies in Komotini (Gümülcine) on Thursday.

A larger group of CHP members as well as journalists was scheduled to join İnce in Greece; however, they were told to apply for permission to enter from the Greek Foreign Ministry since they comprised an election campaign delegation.

“We were going there for a simple visit, not to do politics, but they refused to let us in,” CHP deputy Erdin Bircan said.

European countries have been reluctant to give permission to Turkish politicians for campaign rallies in their territories since last year’s referendum campaign, during which Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu’s plane was denied clearance to land in the Netherlands and Minister of Family and Social Policy Fatma Betül Kaya was expelled from the country after trying to hold a rally in Rotterdam, causing a diplomatic crisis.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan attended a rally in Bosnia on May 20 after several European countries, including Germany and the Netherlands, said beforehand they would not allow electioneering within their borders.

However, the Democratic Peoples’ Party (HDP) held a rally in the German city of Cologne on May 26.

German Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Adebahr stated that although the German government’s decision not to allow election campaigning for non-EU countries was still valid, local authorities in Cologne might have allowed the HDP to hold its rally.

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