Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz has defended his statement warning Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan against introducing “splits into Austrian society” during his visit to the country this week.
Speaking to Turkish media about his statement, Kurz said many people are worried that Erdoğan might send polarising messages to the Turkish population living in Vienna whilst he is here.
“Erdoğan’s address to Turks in Vienna should not harm the integration process and should support it. I have a great relationship with the Turkish community here. No one should provoke the situation. These Turks are not foreigners. They belong to our society, and they should be respected,” he said.
Erdoğan is expected to attract crowds of 17,000 when he speaks in Vienna this Thursday at Albert-Schultz-Halle. Meanwhile, around 11,000 are expected to march in counter demonstrations in the city against the Turkish leader.
Kurz, who says it is his duty to make the Austrian government’s expectations of Turkish politicians known, also said he thinks Austrian society shares his fears about Erdogan disrupting the integration process.
In response to his first “warning” remarks on 13 June, Kurz’ website was hacked by pro-Erdogan supporters on 16 June who posted a picture of the Turkish PM along with the words:
“Austria foreign minister! Who do you think you are kiddy! You cannot decide how to talk to our prime minister! Erdoğan the prime minister is the grandson of ancestors who reached Vienna, the soil you’re walking on now! We are Akıncılar [Raiders], We are Ottomans, We are Turkey!.”