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Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan talks to media after the Eid al-Fitr prayers in Istanbul, Turkey, June 25, 2017. REUTERS/Murad Sezer(reuters_tickers)
By Sabine Siebold
KRASNODAR, Russia (Reuters) - Germany will reject a request by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan to address Turkish citizens while attending the G20 summit in Germany next week, the German foreign minister said on Wednesday, in another blow to the troubled ties of the allies.
Sigmar Gabriel said Ankara had submitted a formal request on Wednesday for Erdogan to speak to Turkish citizens in Germany on the sidelines of the July 7-8 summit of leading economies. He said Turkey had ignored his express advice not to do so.
A spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel confirmed that Erdogan's request to speak at a non-G20 event would be denied.
Gabriel said such appearances by Erdogan, who has addressed Turks in Germany before, would be inappropriate. Germany did not want to play host to the domestic problems of another country, the minister told reporters during a visit to Russia.
He also cited security concerns for Erdogan's request being rejected.
"We don't have the police forces available to ensure security, given the G20." Gabriel said. "But I also told them openly that such an appearance was not appropriate given the conflict situation that exists with Turkey, and that it would not fit into the political landscape at this time."
In Moscow, Gabriel told reporters that Germany was under no obligation to allow such appearances and it did not violate democratic principles.
Ties between Germany and Turkey have soured due to disagreements over a range of political and security issues, worsening significantly in the past year due to Turkey's jailing of a German-Turkish journalist, Ankara's refusal to let German lawmakers visit German troops at a Turkish air base.
Among other grievances, Erdogan has decried as "Nazi era tactics" decisions by local German authorities to ban rallies by Turkish politicians before it held a referendum in April which widened presidential powers.
Erdogan has previously been permitted to address Turkish citizens living in Germany, home to an estimated 1.4 million eligible Turkish voters and around 3 million people with a Turkish background. But Gabriel said he wanted to change that policy for all non-EU countries, given the experiences of the last months, and had discussed the issue with Merkel.
"We should tell all non-EU countries - not just Turkey - that we don't allow campaign appearances that serve to import domestic conflicts from other country to Germany."
Asked if Turkey could plan an event for Erdogan in its embassy or consulates in Germany, Gabriel said that this was up to Ankara.
(Reporting by Sabine Siebold; Writing by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Thomas Escritt and Raissa Kasolowsky)