Turkish PM cancels visit, protests due without him

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17 Mar, 2012 Updated Sat 17 Mar 2012 10:04 CEST
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Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has cancelled his planned visit to Germany on Saturday where he was due to receive a prize for “tolerance and humanity” – and where tens of thousands of people were planning protests.

Erdogan cancelled his trip to the western German town of Bochum after a Turkish military helicopter crashed into a house in Afghanistan killing at least 12 Turkish soldiers and five people on the ground, including two children.

Yet police said on Saturday morning they were still expecting tens of thousands of people to demonstrate against the awarding of the Steiger Award for Europe to Erdogan. The prize was to be given to him as a representative of the Turkish people for "50 years of German-Turkish friendship."

But those still set to take to Bochum’s streets on Saturday include German Armenians, Kurds and Alevis, who have called the award a “slap in the face for all minorities in Turkey,” according to a statement from Germany's Alevi Community. Seven separate demonstrations have been registered with the police, and are still expected to take place.

Other people set to receive prizes include Queen Silvia of Sweden for her charity work, former German President Horst Köhler under the category “tolerance,” and even rock legend Lou Reed for his music.

Gerhard Schröder had been booked to deliver Erdogan’s laudation at the ceremony. In an open letter, writer Ralph Giordano criticised the former German chancellor for agreeing to speak. He said should not support the Turkish prime minister as long as Erdogan refuses to recognise the 1915-6 genocide of the Armenians.

DPA/The Local/hc



2012/03/17 10:04

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