(AFP) Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was heading to Switzerland on Thursday after having to call off a campaign appearance amongst diaspora voters, in a bitter row between Ankara and Europe.
Relations between Turkey and Europe have been severely strained since several Turkish ministers were blocked from campaigning on the continent for a ‘yes’ vote in next month’s referendum on boosting the powers of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Ankara has said such behavior was reminiscent of Nazi Germany, and Erdogan warned on Wednesday that Europeans risk being unsafe on the world’s streets if they did not modify their behavior.
Cavusoglu will meet with his Swiss counterpart Didier Burkhalter during his visit, the Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement.
“In addition to discussing bilateral relations, the minister and Burkhalter plan to discuss current regional and international issues,” the ministry said.
Cavusoglu will then meet members of the Turkish Swiss community at Turkey’s embassy in Bern, the ministry added.
The visit comes after the Swiss government rejected a request from Zurich authorities to cancel a previously planned visit by the minister earlier this month, after the canton’s security spokesman warned that a rally he was due to attend could be hit by “heavy demonstrations”.
However, the organisers cancelled the event after the hotel they had booked refused to host it.
Swiss police on March 10 also blocked a rally in the northern canton of Argau supporting a “yes” vote in the referendum.
On April 16, Turks will decide whether to approve constitutional changes that would axe the role of prime minister and could see Erdogan in power until 2029.
While the government argues it is necessary for stability, critics claim it will lead to one-man rule.