VIENNA (Reuters) – The far-right runner-up in Austria’s presidential election last year, Norbert Hofer, said there should be no dual-citizenship for Turks until Ankara discloses how many Turks in Austria still hold Turkish citizenship.
The number of immigrants holding illegal dual-citizenship has come into focus in Austria since the Turkey held a referendum that approved sweeping new powers for Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, putting pressure on Austria’s interior minister.
Turks living in Austria voted overwhelmingly in favor of the constitutional changes, broadly in line with results from other European countries.
“If I could decide I would no longer naturalize any Turks until we get all information there is from Ankara about dual citizenships,” Hofer told Oe24 TV late on Thursday.
Hofer’s anti-immigration and Freedom Party (FPO) has led opinion polls ahead of the ruling centrist parties for over a year, buoyed by rising concerns over immigration. He narrowly lost to an independent rival in presidential elections late last year.
The FPO sits in the same bloc as France’s National Front and other nationalist parties in the European parliament, although, unlike some of its allies, it has rowed back from calls for a vote on Austria’s future within the European Union.
A war of words between Turkey and the EU erupted last month after several countries stopped Turkish politicians holding rallies intended to drum up support for Erdogan.
But diplomatic tensions between Austria and Turkey predate this escalation with other European countries after Austria led earlier calls to stop EU membership talks with Turkey.
(Reporting By Shadia Nasralla; editing by Richard Lough)