Middle East

Turkey’s Erdogan to visit Bosnia ahead of June election

FILE PHOTO: Turkish President Erdogan makes a speech during a ceremony in Istanbul

FILE PHOTO: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan makes a speech during a ceremony in Istanbul, Turkey May 4, 2018. REUTERS/Murad Sezer/File Photo

SARAJEVO (Reuters) – Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan will speak ahead of elections on June 24 to political supporters in the Bosnian capital, Turkey’s ambassador to Bosnia said on Monday.

Some media in Turkey reported in recent weeks that Erdogan will hold a rally in Sarajevo ahead of the elections.

Some Western countries have banned Turkish politicians from campaigning on their soil. Erdogan has said his party would hold the first election rally in a European country and last weekend said it would be in Sarajevo.

Ambassador Haldun Koc told local Fena news agency that Erdogan would come in a working visit first planned for June but then moved to May 20 because of the early election.

“We see this visit as a working visit that should be focused on topics such as economy, trade, investment and further cooperation between the two countries,” Koc told Fena.

Erdogan called snap parliamentary and presidential elections so Turkey can switch quickly to an executive presidency narrowly approved by referendum last year.

Ahead of that vote, countries including the Netherlands and Germany, both of which have significant Turkish communities, prevented Turkish officials from campaigning there citing security concerns.

Austria and Germany said last month they would ban foreign politicians from campaigning in their respective countries.

Koc said Erdogan will attend the convention of the Union of European-Turkish Democrats (UETD), the non-government organization which invited Turkish officials to speak ahead of the referendum last year but was prevented by authorities there.

The event will be held in a reconstructed Olympic hall that can hold up to 20,000 people, the UETD said on its website. Bosnian officials said on Monday they were not aware of Erdogan’s visit.

(Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg)

 

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