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May 19, 2014 AT 7:29 AM
Germany has rejected calls for Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan to cancel his visit to Cologne on Saturday, when he is due to address almost 20,000 supporters in what could amount to a de facto rally for Turkey's presidential poll in August. Erdogan has not yet said whether he will run for the Turkish president, but he is widely expected to do so. Although his party says the Cologne speech is not a campaign event, some German lawmakers have urged Berlin to discourage it, owing to Erdogan's pugnacious style and what critics say are his increasing authoritarian tendencies. German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said the visit was a private one and the Turkish premier was welcome.