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The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Turkey summons Austrian envoy over Kurdish-Turkish clashes in Vienna

Ankara accused Austrian police of damaging Turkish-owned buildings [Getty]

Date of publication: 29 June, 2020

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Austria also summoned the Turkish ambassador over the clashes between Kurdish and Turkish nationalist demonstrators.
Turkey summoned the Austrian ambassador to Ankara on Monday over what it said were rallies by supporters of Kurdish militants in Vienna, a charge denied by Austria which urged de-escalation.

Police in the Austrian capital broke up clashes between pro-Kurdish demonstrators and Turkish nationalists last week in a district with a high number of residents of Turkish descent, local media reported.

Ankara claimed the rallies were organised by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which is outlawed in Turkey.

The PKK, which is blacklisted as a terrorist group by Ankara and its Western allies, has waged an on-off insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984.

Turkey's foreign ministry said it shared with the Austrian envoy its "concerns regarding the fact that PKK-linked groups were allowed to organise rallies four days in a row and that the Austrian security forces used violence against Turkish youth".

The ministry also condemned the "harsh intervention by Austrian security forces", including "damage to businesses belonging to the Turkish community".

Vienna said police intervention prevented worse violence.

Violence began on Wednesday last week, when a fight broke out after Turks heckled a Kurdish group gathering in the Austrian capital.

Pro-Kurdish protests in the days following then led to clashes with Turkish counter-demonstrators in which stones and fireworks were thrown, Reuters reported.

Austrian Interior Minister Karl Nehammer rejected Turkey's claims that Austrian authorities ignored PKK symbols during the protests.

Turkey's ambassador to Vienna was also "invited" to the Austrian foreign ministry on Monday.

The Turkish envoy was urged to "help de-escalate" the situation rather than "add fuel to the fire", the Austrian ministry said in a statement.

Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg meanwhile requested Turkey not refer to demonstrators as supporters of terror groups, his ministry said.

"It is in everyone's interest that foreign conflicts are not imported to Vienna," Schallenberg said.

Relations between Ankara and Vienna - like those between Ankara and other European capitals - have been strained since the attempted overthrow of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2016.

Ties worsened after European countries including Austria would not allow Erdogan's ruling party to host rallies ahead of a 2017 referendum on constitutional changes.

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