By twisting his traditional hostile stance against the western world Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has expressed hope for good relations with the European Union (EU) and Germany, after a year of tense relations between Berlin and Ankara, according to a report by Deutsche Welle (DW) on Thursday.
“We certainly desire good relations with the EU and EU countries,” Erdogan told journalists aboard a flight back from a four-day trip to Sudan, Chad and Tunisia.
Ties between the Brussels and Ankara have steadily deteriorated over the past two years, with Turkey’s morbid EU accession process all but halted over deteriorating human rights and rule of law. Especially, Turkey and Germany careened from crisis to crisis in 2017 as relations hit rock bottom over a series of issues.
Seems to be forgotten his hostile rhetoric and hate mongering in recent months Erdoğan has stated that “There is an expression that I always say. We need to reduce our enemies and increase our friends,” Erdoğan said.
“We don’t have a problem with Germany, the Netherlands or Belgium. It’s exactly the opposite, the leaders of those countries are old friends of mine,” Erdoğan said. “They did some wrong things to me, but that’s a different matter.”
Tensions between Berlin and Ankara have eased somewhat recently after the release from prison of a number of German nationals. But relations are still plagued by a war of words earlier this year and serious disputes, including the continued detention of Die Welt correspondent Deniz Yücel on trumped-up terrorism charges in Turkey.
Saying that he may visit Germany, the Netherlands, France and the Vatican, Erdoğan has added that there were problems with the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium but “our last discussions have been quite good.” “On the issue of Jerusalem I wanted support from them, they are on the same page as us,” Erdoğan said, referring to opposition to US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize the contested holy city as the capital of Israel. He said he called German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier recently to thank him.
Erdoğan likes to present himself as the Muslim world’s chief defender of Palestinian rights and has been leading the charge against the Trump administration’s Jerusalem decision.
Until recent times Erdoğan has frequently attacked Germany and other EU countries and often reiterated that “Europe is the center of Nazism today and will pay a heavy price for it.”
“Europe is finished. But they will pay a heavy price. During this process [EU-Turkey relations] all those things they used to claim they defend have crashed to the ground,” Erdoğan had said during a rally in Balıkesir early this year.
“Today, in the eyes of billions of people, Europe is not a center of democracy, human rights and freedoms, but a center of pressure, violence and Nazism. We know it as this. Racists lead European leaders and governments by the nose. Europe no longer has anything to say to us or to the world. It’s a continent that has been rotting away,” added Erdoğan.
Criticizing a meeting of European Union leaders at the Vatican with Pope Francis, Erdoğan has also said “the alliance of crusaders has shown itself in the end.” “EU member states met at the Vatican. These developments bring something to mind. Why did you meet at the Vatican? Why did you meet before the pope? When did the pope become a member of the EU? The alliance of crusaders has shown itself in the end. That is it. What did you tell us up to now? ‘You repeat this, but there is no such thing. Yes, you [EU] won’t accept Turkey into the EU because Turkey is Muslim. I have said this now. Look at what will happen tomorrow,” said Erdoğan during a referendum campaign rally in İstanbul’s Sancaktepe district.
On April 2, 2017, Erdoğan had called on people to respond to the EU, which he describes as the alliance of crusaders, in a referendum on April 16, 2017
Erdoğan had also called on Turkish voters in Europe to defy the “grandchildren of Nazism” and back a constitutional reform package that was put to a public referendum on April 16 to introduce an executive presidency to Turkey.
Erdoğan had targeted German Chancellor Angela Merkel directly 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.
Erdoğan had also reiterated his claim 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 had said claiming that the judiciary in Turkey is independent.
Erdoğan had also said Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte cannot look him in the face anymore. Blasting Europe for its obsession with him, his party and Turkey, Erdoğan had warned EU countries about making a choice as to where they stand in relation to Turkey.
“Will it win you votes to attack Erdoğan and Turkey? How far are you going to go? What is going to happen at international meetings now? Would you like it to be the way it happened with the Dutch prime minister? He cannot look me in the face anymore, and I don’t even look at him. Look at his situation, he cannot even form a government,” said Erdoğan.
“We know the Netherlands and the Dutch from the Srebrenica massacre. We know how rotten their character is from their massacre of 8,000 Bosnians there,” Erdoğan had said, calling the Netherlands “Nazi remnants, fascists.”