Reuters International

VIENNA (Reuters) - The Austrian city of Linz will let an event featuring a party colleague of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan go ahead on Saturday because there is no legal reason to stop it, a spokesman for the city's police said.

The town of Hoerbranz has cancelled a separate event with a former Turkish minister, however, on the grounds that the organisers falsely claimed it was a book presentation.

Some European countries have blocked planned appearances by Turkish politicians held to drum up support ahead of an April 16 referendum aimed at giving Erdogan sweeping new powers, leading to tensions between Turkey and some of its NATO allies.

Austria's interior minister said on Tuesday he wanted to change the law to permit a ban on foreign officials making speeches in the country if human rights or public order are threatened.

Around 116,000 Turkish nationals live in Austria, a country of about 8.7 million.

The Linz police spokesman said Saturday's presented no threat, however.

"We cannot forbid this (event) because there are no concerns that public order might be disturbed or criminal acts committed," the police spokesman said.

He said the event with Erdogan ally Muhammet Mufit Aydin in a location for around 200 people had only been advertised on social media but not officially registered with the police.

"The fact is that police cannot act just because the public debate goes in the direction of wanting the police to get active in this matter. If you want the police to get active, you have to change the law," the spokesman said.

Separately, a police spokesman for the town of Hoerbranz said the mayor there had cancelled an event for around 400 people with former Turkish energy minister Taner Yildiz because the organisers had falsely claimed it was a book presentation.

"It seems as if we're dealing with a case of proper campaign tourism through Europe," the Linz police spokesman said.

Turkish law forbids election campaigning abroad and in diplomatic missions. Ministers are circumventing the ban by holding what they say are cultural events with Turkish citizens abroad.

Having survived a military coup in July, Erdogan says the referendum is needed to stabilise the country. European politicians accuse him of using the coup as a pretext for mass arrests and dismissals that stifle dissent.

Although several rallies by Turkish ministers have been cancelled in Germany for security concerns, Berlin has said they can campaign provided they respect local law.

The Dutch government has said it would not welcome the Turkish foreign minister to the Netherlands if he was coming to solicit the votes of local Turks.

Switzerland, however, declined on Thursday to block the Turkish foreign minister from speaking in Zurich this weekend. It concluded that there was no extraordinary threat level that would justify curbs on freedom of speech.

(Reporting by Shadia Nasralla; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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