BEIRUT

Middle East

Thousands demonstrate against Austria visit of Turkish PM

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks to thousands of fellow Turks living in Austria , in Vienna, Austria, Thursday, June 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)

VIENNA: As many as 10,000 people demonstrated in Vienna on Thursday in protest at a visit by Turkey's strongman Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, organisers and police said.

Erdogan has been accused of autocratic tendencies in his home country and a similar trip to Germany last month ruffled feathers after he spoke out against assimilation of Turkish immigrants.

Police said they used pepper spray after a "minor incident" when a bottle was thrown at the protesters in the Austrian capital, most of whom were from the local Turkish community. No injuries were reported.

A speech by Erdogan in a sports arena to members of Austria's 250,000-strong Turkish minority ahead of an expected presidential run in August drew some 6,000-7,000 supporters, police said.

A further 10,000 people watched his speech on a big screen outside the venue.

Austria's government had warned Erdogan against making provocative comments, and he appeared to heed the advice telling the crowd, "no one has anything to fear from us".

Trumpeting Turkey's economic growth under his stewardship, Erdogan said that Europe needed his country.

" Europe does not end where the river Danube flows into the Black Sea but begins where the Euphrates and Tigris begin," he said.

 

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