Turkey condemns Austrian ban on grey wolves symbol

The Turkish Foreign Ministry said on Thursday that the “Symbol Act”, which had been adopted by the Austrian parliament and would put a ban on some symbols including the Turkish nationalist “Grey Wolves” sign as of March, was unacceptable. 

The ministry said in a written statement that it was “utterly scandalous” for Austria to put a Turkish nationalist sign in the same list with signs belonging to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). “It is also a concerning indicator of the level of populism reached in Austria,” it said. 

The grey wolves sign is widely associated with a nationalist youth organisation that engaged in street battles against leftists in the 1970s. The organisation today is affiliated to the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), an ally of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

“With this irrational and senseless decision, Austria has targeted not only the political party and its supporters who use this symbol, but also the institution of politics and the base of legal politics as a whole,” the Foreign Ministry said. 

The ministry called on Austria to undo the ban, which it said would have a negative effect on bilateral relations.