Steinmeier slams Erdoğan, says he risks destroying everything achieved in Turkey

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Germany’s newly elected President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has slammed Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and said that he risks destroying everything Turkey has achieved in recent years and damaging ties with its partners.

President Erdoğan had targeted German Chancellor Angela Merkel and accused her of Nazism amid strained ties between the two countries. “Merkel, you are engaging in Nazi practices against my Turkish brothers who live there, against my ministers and deputies who go there,” Erdoğan had ranted in a speech in İstanbul.

“The way we look (at Turkey) is characterized by worry, that everything that has been built up over years and decades is collapsing,” Steinmeier replied Erdoğan on Wednesday in his inaugural speech in Berlin. Strongly warning Erdoğan, Steinmeier has stated that “President Erdoğan, you are jeopardizing everything that you, with others, have built.”

Stressing that he would welcome “credible signs” to ease the situation, Steinmeier has also called Erdoğan to “end the unspeakable Nazi comparisons!”

Erdoğan had reiterated his claim numbers of time that Merkel has been supporting terrorists in reference to jailed Turkish-German journalist Deniz Yücel in Turkey. “You are asking for a terror agent from us” Erdoğan said claiming that the judiciary in Turkey is independent. In reference to journalist Yücel, Erdoğan said “He appeared in court and was arrested¨ defending the imprisonment of Die Welt reporter in Turkey.

During his speech Steinmeier has urged  Erdoğan to not cut the relations. “Do not cut the ties to those people who want partnership with Turkey! Respect the rule of law and the freedom of media and journalists! And release Deniz Yücel,” said Steinmeier. As a former foreign minister of Germany, Steinmeier has usually been known with his diplomatic style.

Meanwhile, President Erdoğan has continued to target Germany and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday. Stating that “Turkey is not a country that can be pushed around,” Erdoğan said “Turkey is not a country whose ministers can be kicked out, and whose citizens can be kicked around.”

Surprisingly, Erdoğan has also called on the European countries to respect democracy, human rights and freedoms. “As Turkey, we invite the European countries to respect democracy, human rights and freedoms. It should be remembered that Europeans in particular need these values as much as we do,” he said.

Erdoğan has also said that Europeans across the world would not be able to walk safely on the streets if they kept up their current attitude. “If Europe continues this way, no European in any part of the world can walk safely on the streets,” Erdoğan said at event for local journalists in Ankara.

He also criticized Merkel again over her remarks of solidarity with the Netherlands, a country Erdoğan said “closed its door to Turkish ministers,” and “let its dogs loose on my [Turkish] citizens.”

“So, you say you are standing by the Netherlands. Fine. Then I am standing by my people and God,” he said.

Turkey has been embroiled in a row with Germany and the Netherlands over the barring of campaign appearances by Turkish officials seeking to drum up support for the April 16 referendum.

German media have reported that Erdoğan plans to visit Germany this month to rally the estimated 1.4 eligible Turkish voters living here to support the April 16 referendum.  German government has said it has not received a formal request for a visit by Erdoğan.

Furious with German authorities for not allowing Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ and Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekçi to deliver speeches in some German towns during which the ministers would ask for support from Turkish expatriates for upcoming referendum which will introduce an executive presidency in Turkey, Erdoğan accused Germany of employing practices similar to those of the Nazi era.

A pro-Erdoğan Güneş daily depicted Merkel as Hitler on its front page. Putting Merkel in a Nazi uniform with a Hitler-style moustache, the daily called the chancellor a “Female Hitler.”

Accusing Germany harboring terrorists, the daily also claimed that Berlin is inciting all of Europe against Turkey: “Trying to be the leader of fascists, Merkel creates anti-Turkish enmity using Germany’s backyard — Austria, the Netherlands and Belgium.” 

March 22, 2017

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