Amid tensions between Berlin and Ankara, Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has told Turks living in Germany not to vote for parties treating Turkey as an enemy on Friday.
Warning Turkish voters in Germany against voting for the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Christian Democrats and Greens, Erdoğan said: “I am calling on all our citizens in Germany. Don’t make a mistake and vote for them. SDP, Christian Democrats, Greens… Never. Vote for parties that are not enemies of Turkey. This, now, is a struggle for honor for my Turkish citizens living in Germany.”
Addressing 1 million Turkish-German voters, who he said will change everything, Erdoğan called on them to teach the political parties a lesson at the ballot box.
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel hit out Friday against “interference” by Erdoğan in Germany’s elections, after the Turkish leader urged Turks living abroad not to vote for parties of the ruling coalition. “That is an unprecedented act of interference in the sovereignty of our country,” Gabriel told the RedaktionsNetzwerk media group.
“Erdogan’s interference in Germany’s electoral campaign shows that he wants to incite people in Germany against each other,” he said. Gabriel urged Germans to push back by turning up in strength at the polls and voting for parties that champion democracy.
“Let’s show those who want to play us against each other that we will not participate in this evil game,” he said.
Erdoğan’s move also did not go down well with the Turkish community. Atilla Karabörklü, the co-chairman of Germany’s Turkish Community association, accused Erdoğan of “seeking to divide German society.” His aim is “to hurt German democracy,” charged Karabörklü.
Following a series of disputes between the two NATO allies due to Turkey’s crackdown in the wake of a botched coup attempt last summer, German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently said a customs union agreement between Turkey and the European Union should not be expanded unless the tension eased with Turkey.
Holding Germany’s strategy responsible for the tension between the two countries, Erdoğan said Germany had carried its domestic crises to that level and had become a country that does not comply with the EU.
Erdoğan also accused the EU of not keeping its promise of allowing visa-free travel to Turkey and of not providing the promised financial assistance.
Referring to Germany’s requests from Turkey to release German journalists and a human rights defender, Erdoğan said: “We have sent our diplomatic note and we are asking them to take the necessary steps. If Germany adopts a different attitude while asking for its citizens, then we want them, too. And what is more they want criminals, we want terrorists. We are still waiting, they have three to five imprisoned nationals here, they keep asking for them. If they have a judiciary, we have a judiciary, too.”
President Erdoğan is believed to be detaining German journalists and human rights defenders to force the deportation from Germany of Turkish asylum seekers, who Erdoğan accuses of having mounted a botched coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
Turkey claims some key suspects in the perpetration of the failed coup in 2016 fled to Germany and is demanding that Berlin hand them over to the Turkish judiciary. German authorities have not responded to Ankara amid reports of torture in Turkish jails, especially in the case of coup suspects.
In response to a diplomatic note from Turkey that asked Germany to confirm whether media reports claiming that the prime suspect in an attempted coup last July, Adil Öksüz, is in Germany are accurate and to return him to Turkey in the event he is found there, Berlin said on Wednesday there is no information that confirms that Öksüz is in Germany.
Erdoğan accused Germany of assisting terrorists by failing to respond to Turkey’s requests to hand over suspects wanted by Turkish authorities. (SCF with turkishminute.com)