On March 22, activists from Identitäre Bewegung (The Identitarian Movement), a European far-right group, gained access to the roof of the Turkish embassy in Vienna, Austria. The activists unfurled a banner reading “Erdogan Hol Deine Türken Ham” (Erdogan, get your Turks home), accompanied by a silhouette of Prince Eugene of Savoy, an 18th century military commander who led an army against the Ottoman Empire.
According to a statement on the website of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the banner was immediately removed by embassy officials. The statement notes that the Austrian police failed to capture the perpetrators and goes on to criticise the Austrian authorities in light of the incident.
“This act perpetrated against our embassy, unfortunately, reveals a serious security and intelligence deficiency,” read the statement, signed by Ambassador Hüseyin Müftüoğlu, spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The statement continues: “It is clear that this act is an inevitable consequence of the Austrian government’s negative and provocative discourse based on internal political considerations, which irresponsibly targetsTurkey (sic) and the Turkish community.”
According to the BBC, an estimated 350,000 people of Turkish origin live in Austria. There is a continuing diplomatic crisis between Ankara and several European governments, which began as a row over Turkish politicians’ plans to hold rallies in European countries in the run up to an April 16 referendum over proposed changes to Turkey’s constitution. Analysts have noted that the Turkish diaspora in Europe is a potentially key demographic in the vote on the proposed changes, which would consolidate political power in the office of President. The Austrian chancellor said on March 13 that he would not allow Turkish ministers to campaign in Austria. The AKP, Turkey’s ruling political party, has since announced that it would no longer seek to hold campaign events in Europe.
Speaking in Ankara yesterday, President Erdoğan said, “Turkey is not a country you can pull and push around, not a country whose citizens you can drag on the ground… If Europe continues this way, no European in any part of the world can walk safely on the streets. Europe will be damaged by this. We, as Turkey, call on Europe to respect human rights and democracy.”
By Michael Hornsby