NATO – Clerfayt requests those living in Schaerbeek stay at home during “Summit”
Wednesday, 24 May 2017
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan meets Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel in Brussels. Brussels is home to a large community of dual Turkish and Belgian citizens. Local mayors do not want to see any repeat of the violence that broke out during Erdogan's visit in Washington last week between protesters and security personell.
The Mayor of Schaerbeek, Bernard Clerfayt (of DéFI), requests that those living in Schaerbeek keep “calm at home” during the NATO “Summit”. He said this on Tuesday on the eve of the arrival of 29 heads of state and government in Brussels, including the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for a special NATO meeting.
Ten days ago, the Mayor of Brussels, Yan Mayeur (PS), had indicated that he would prohibit all protests in support of the Turkish President outside the hotel in Place Stéphanie where he is expected to stay. This is for “obvious security reasons.”
The announcement led to public retaliation directly from Mr Erdogan himself.
The mayors of Brussels, Ixelles, Saint-Gilles and Schaerbeek, whose areas each have a significant Turkish community met to analyse the situation. The Brussels Times has learned that the Mayor of Saint-Josse, Emir Kir (PS), was not present at this meeting.
Schaerbeek Council has committed to supplying reinforcements, to assist Brussels City Council in managing the event at which the 29 heads of state and government will meet.
Schaerbeek Council has also “understood” Mr Mayeur’s decision to refuse to allow any protest in front of the hotel where Mr Erdogen is staying.
Mr Clerfayt stresses, “Given the circumstances, it is unreasonable for any group to want to hold a rally in front of President Erdogen’s hotel.”
Local police will be on their guard in respect of any movement towards Avenue Louise.
Mr Clerfayt said, “Of course, we cannot operate on the basis of preventing citizens from travelling around and going where they wish to. However the police within our police zone remain on guard.”
He went on, “We are strongly advising locals that they should remain calm at home and not add an additional problem to police security. The police will already be under significant strain.”
At the end of yesterday afternoon, the Mayor of Schaerbeek was not aware of any particular related rally or movement planning to gather in the commune of Schaerbeek during the “Summit”.