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Erdogan stages showpiece election rally in Bosnian capital

Tens of thousands of Turks attended Erdogan’s re-election rally in Sarajevo after he was prevented from massing his supporters in some EU states

Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a mass rally of the Turkish diaspora and local supporters in Sarajevo on Sunday that he will win the presidential elections in his home country on June 24.

“This crowd and the voice of these people in Sarajevo are signs of a great victory in the coming elections in Turkey,” Erdogan told the rally.

Erdogan held the election campaign rally in Sarajevo after some European countries banned similar events.

“European countries did not want our events but Bosnia gave this opportunity to us. Bosnia proved its democracy,” Erdogan said.

The rally took place in Sarajevo’s Olympic hall, known as Zetra. According to Turkish state-run news agency Anadolu, some 12,000 people attended the rally, while 10,000 more followed it outside the hall.

In addition to Turks, local Bosniaks and other Bosnian Muslims also attended the rally.

Erdogan urged the Turkish diaspora across Europe to acquire dual citizenship, learn the local languages, including Bosnian, and become active, in local political life.

But he urged Turks to “never forget your religion and language”.

“Turkish diaspora members should have positions in their host countries’ political parties,” he said.

The Turkish leader has presided over a widespread crackdown after an attempted coup in July 2016.

Turkish media reported on Sunday that Erdogan said that his country’s National Intelligence Organisation had warned him about an assassination plot against him.

“Such threats and operations will not stop us from going forward. We will continue on our path,” he was quoted as saying by Hurriyet.

He also took aim at exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen, a former ally who he accuses of being behind the failed coup. Turkey describes Gulen’s group as the ‘Gulenist Terrorist Organisation’, or FETO.

“FETO is trying to survive like an octopus that has its arms wrapped around all departments of the government,” he said, according to the Hurriyet report.

Before the rally, Erdogan had talks on economic cooperation with his host in the country, Bakir Izetbegovic, a Bosnian presidency member and leader of the Bosniak Party of Democratic Action, SDA.

Izetbegovic told media that “Erdogan was sent [to lead Turkey] by Allah”.

After the talks, Erdogan insisted that Turkey has no hidden agenda in Bosnia.

His comment came after Milorad Dodik, leader of the country’s Serb-dominated entity Republika Srpska, accused Erdogan of “interfering a lot” in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Radio Free Europe reported.

Source: balkaninsight