Austria warns Erdogan not to incite Turks' isolation

VIENNA Thu Jun 12, 2014 12:56pm EDT

Austria's Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz is pictured during an interview with Reuters in Vienna January 17, 2014.  REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

Austria's Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz is pictured during an interview with Reuters in Vienna January 17, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Leonhard Foeger

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VIENNA (Reuters) - Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz urged Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday to promote integration of the Turkish community into Austrian society when he visits Vienna this month.

The warning via comments to tabloid newspapers comes after the Turkish premier riled some politicians in Germany last month by urging Turks to integrate but not assimilate in Germany.

"I expressly warn Premier Erdogan: He cannot drive a wedge into Austrian society. Integration is touchy and sometimes difficult. The wrong speech can set us back and poison the climate," Kurz told Oesterreich in an interview released ahead of publication on Friday.

His ministry confirmed the quotes were accurate.

Kurz said Erdogan had a great responsibility to address the "right things - learn German and be loyal to Austria". But a speech like the one in Germany would harm both the majority population and Turkish immigrants, he added.

Austrian far-right leader Heinz-Christian Strache has already told Erdogan to stay home rather than deliver "a pure propaganda campaign for his Erdoganistan".

With presidential elections due in August, expatriate Turks have become a significant bloc of voters after changes to the electoral system allowed them to cast votes abroad.

Around 268,000 people of Turkish origin live in Austria, according to government figures, of which nearly 115,000 are Turkish citizens.

(Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Alison Williams)

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