Visits by the Turkish president have already triggered political crises. This time that is not to be expected. Protests against Erdoğan are still taking place.
BERLIN taz | It wasn’t long ago that visits by the Turkish President to Berlin caused a moderate domestic political crisis in Germany. If on Friday first Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and then Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will be received, demonstrations have been announced within shouting distance in the government district. But this time the mobilization is taking place under different circumstances – and it doesn’t look as if similar crowds against the Turkish president will take to the streets again as before.
Under the motto “No red carpet for the Islamist Erdoğan”, the Society for Threatened Peoples and the Syrian Kurdish Diaspora Network in Europe association are calling for two demonstrations: The organizers want to gather at the police barriers in Bellevueallee in the morning; They have registered another rally near the Chancellery for the afternoon.
The demonstrators are also adapting the approximate schedule of the Turkish President’s visit to Berlin. This is how Steinmeier greets his Turkish colleague in the morning; without military honors because, strictly according to protocol, the Turkish President’s reception is not a state visit, but a working visit: Erdoğan is a guest at the invitation of the Federal Chancellor and not Steinmeier. If one were to take the working visit protocol seriously, then the visit would not be for “general contact maintenance” like a ceremonial state visit, but rather to address current political issues.
And as we know, there are enough of these at the moment. However, it is doubtful whether there will be productive discussions between Steinmeier, Scholz and Erdoğan. The positions in the Middle East conflict are too different, in which Erdoğan has long since made no secret of his sympathies for Hamas. The power differential between the European Union and Turkey in dealing with refugees is now too different, although CDU politicians in particular are dreaming of a revival of the 2016 agreement between Brussels and Ankara to take back asylum seekers.
The Chancellor objects
The federal government is extremely pragmatic in its approach to the visit, and so far there has been hardly any fundamental criticism of it from the opposition. The parliamentary managing director of the Union faction, Thorsten Frei, said that it was fundamentally correct that the federal government did not cancel the Turkish president’s visit – despite his stylization of Hamas as freedom fighters and a one-sided focus on Israel’s war activities. There are urgent demands from the Union and also from the traffic light parties for the Chancellor to underline the government’s positioning on Israel’s side.
Scholz himself had already rejected Erdoğan’s allegations that Israel was acting in a “fascist manner” as “absurd” on Tuesday.
The focus on the Middle East on the Turkish and German sides in recent weeks is likely to mean that discussions about other central issues in our shared relations are less noticed. In response to an attack on October 1st in Ankara, Turkey is currently launching another offensive against the Kurdish region of Rojava in northeastern Syria. In the shadow of Hamas attacks and the Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip, Turkey’s sometimes massive fighting in the region remains largely unnoticed.
On Saturday, an organization would also like to do so in light of these events for a lifting of the ban on the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) in Germany demonstrate. The protest call states that with his statements about Hamas, Erdoğan “underscored his support for radical Islamist organizations.” Maintaining the PKK ban in Germany is the best example of how German-Turkish relations work: by maintaining the ban, Erdoğan allows the Federal Republic to be influenced in favor of economic interests and to the detriment of the basic and human rights of the Kurds.
It initially remained unclear how long Erdoğan would stay in Germany and whether discussions with representatives from civil society and religious communities were planned during this time. Reports that the Turkish head of state would travel on to Cologne after his visit to Berlin were initially not confirmed by the Cologne police to the taz. The Turkish president’s visit to the opening of the central mosque in 2018 led to a lot of protest – both from supporters and opponents of Erdoğan.