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Erdogan told not to 'split' Austrian society

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Photo: Oliver Berg/dpa
20:25 CEST+02:00
Austria warned Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday not to say anything that may "split" Austrian society when he visits next week following a contentious visit to Germany.

The strongman leader ruffled feathers last month when he made disparaging remarks about a German opposition leader of Turkish origin and spoke out against "assimilation" in a speech in Cologne.

"I warn Prime Minister Erdogan explicitly: he should not introduce splits in Austrian society," Austrian foreign minister Sebastian Kurz told Friday's Oesterreich daily.

"If he makes a positive speech and addresses the right things -- learning German and being loyal to Austria -- then he can help," said Kurz, who was formerly the country's integration minister.

"But if he does the opposite, like he did in Germany, then he does damage not only to our majority population but also first and foremost also Turkish immigrants."

Erdogan is due in Vienna -- home to many of Austria's 250,000-strong Turkish community -- on June 19.

The visit is seen by many as a bid to win overseas votes for an expected run for the presidency in August.

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