(WND) — Turkish citizens living in Europe are heading to the polls this week to vote on a referendum calling for expanded powers for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Members of Turkish expatriate communities in Germany, France, Austria, Denmark and Switzerland are able to cast their ballots between March 27 and April 9 at Turkish consulates.
When Turkish ministers from the ruling Justice and Development Party infamously tried to campaign for the referendum in Germany and the Netherlands, officials in those countries barred them from doing so, citing security concerns.
The moves prompted Erdogan to fly into a rage and declare: “If Europe continues this way, no European in any part of the world can walk safely on the streets. Europe will be damaged by this.”
Germany might have been able to brush aside the threat if it weren’t home to a sizable Turkish population. Roughly 3.7 percent of the country’s 82 million residents are Turks, and 1.4 million of those Turks are eligible to vote in the referendum.
Philip Haney, a former Customs and Border Protection officer who co-authored “See Something, Say Nothing: A Homeland Security Officer Exposes the Government’s Submission to Jihad,” said it’s an ominous sign for Europe that Turkish ministers felt the need to go into European countries to campaign for a Turkish referendum in front of Europe’s large Turkish population.
“It tells me they view Europe as an extension of their territory, of their sovereignty, of their influence,” Haney told WND. “This is a preview of what we can expect in the time ahead: an inordinate amount of malevolent influence exerted by rulers of countries, in this case in the Middle East, interfering with the sovereign authority of countries in Europe directly, no pretense.”
Erdogan’s threats amount to nothing less than a breach of European sovereignty, in Haney’s view. He noted German and Dutch leaders had the right, as leaders of sovereign nations, to deny entry to the Turkish ministers if they believed their presence would threaten public security.
“Erdogan’s saying that non-Muslim countries don’t have sovereign rights,” Haney said. “He’s saying, ‘If you do something we don’t like, there might be war.’”
Unfortunately, because there are so many Turks living in Europe, European leaders have no choice but to take Turkey’s threats seriously, according to Haney.
“Look what happened when these countries said, ‘No, no campaigning for Turkish leaders in our country.’ What happened?” Haney asked rhetorically. “They had riots.
“These people are supposedly the equivalent of lawful permanent residents, green-card holders. They’re supposed to be pledging allegiance to the countries that they’re going to, not making a fifth column for Turkey, and that’s why they didn’t let the Turkish ministers in. And Erdogan is threatening, ‘Look, this is what we can do. We can have riots in your cities. One word from me and they will break out into the streets.’ A very ominous warning.”
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Michael Maloof, a former senior security policy analyst in the office of the secretary of defense, agreed Europe must take Erdogan very seriously because of the large Turkish diaspora residing in Europe.
“What happened was that by preventing the Turkish leaders from coming in, it got the Turkish diaspora – those are the expatriates living in Europe – to rise up to defend Erdogan in effect,” Maloof told WND.