Turkish President Erdoğan’s pending state visit draws ire in Germany

The prospect of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan being received with military honors in Berlin has some German politicians up in arms, according to a report by Deutsche Welle (DW) on Monday.

DW reported that while details remain sparse on a possible state visit by Erdoğan, the grand reception that he could receive has upset several German opposition politicians.

“Planning for the visit is currently in the beginning stages,” said Esther Uleer, a spokeswoman for German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s office.

But some members of Germany’s opposition parties feel that any sort of visit would send wrong signals. Erdoğan “is no normal president in a democracy,” cautioned Cem Özdemir, an MP with the environmentalist Greens.

The Turkish leader has transformed his country “into a kind of Turkmenistan or Azerbaijan with censorship, despotism, nepotism and autocracy” and should be received as such during any visit to Germany, Özdemir told the newspapers of the Funke media group. Özdemir also urged the German government “to make it clear that any attempt to build Turkish nationalist-fundamentalist parallel structures here will not be tolerated.”

The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) called for the visit to not take place at all, with AfD parliamentary group leader Alice Weidel saying Erdoğan “should stay home.” “The government must certainly not allow Erdoğan to hold another propaganda show in Berlin,” Weidel wrote in a post on Facebook, adding that such an event would attempt to “incite citizens with Turkish backgrounds and residents of our country against Germany and German society.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government said on Monday that it was “of course” open to discussions with Erdoğan and emphasized Turkey’s role as a “close and important partner.”

Politicians within Germany’s governing coalition also viewed the state visit more positively, although they were not without their caveats. “I’ve never been convinced by the argument that it would be better not to talk at all with difficult partners,” Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, a member of the Social Democrats (SPD), told the Bild daily.

Members of Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), viewed the visit as an opportunity to address outstanding issues. “We’ve already rolled out the red carpet for many other heads of state with blood on their hands. If we want to speak only with democratic leaders, then Germany will soon be very alone on the world stage,” Elmar Brok, a CDU politician and the chair of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs, told Bild.

Jürgen Hardt, the foreign policy spokesman for the CDU/CSU parliamentary group, said he “welcomed” the news of Erdoğan’s possible visit. Still, he noted that it was important for Berlin to address outstanding issues concerning Germany, such as the detention of German citizens in Turkey. “During this visit … the German government should not miss any opportunity to also discuss critical issues between Germany and Turkey,” Hardt said in a statement.

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