German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her arch rival Social Democrat Party leader Martin Schulz held their one and only TV debate Sunday night and differed on everything with the exception of displaying open enmity toward Turkey.
There was no criticism or real debate about Turkey, both politicians were united on sheer enmity toward Ankara, which of course explains why Germany backs terrorists who are trying to destabilize or even destroy Turkey.
So the hope that the extremely negative attitude displayed against Turkey among German politicians does not seem to be a political ploy before the Sept. 24 parliamentary elections to win right-wing votes but shows a more general trend that will shape Ankara-Berlin relations for the years to come.
That is alarming. The prominent members of the Gülenıst Terror Group (FETÖ), which attempted to stage a bloody coup in Turkey on July 15, 2016 and failed, are now assembled in Germany being accorded warm hospitality, which raises suspicions in Ankara that some Germans may well have been behind this violent act. Add to this the relative inaction of Germany to scuttle the terrorist activities of the PKK terrorist group, which has been waging a secessionist war in Turkey for four decades and at times allowing them a free hand to protect Turkey in German streets strengthens the view that Germany has established a state policy to harm Turkey and its government.
There is general belief that Germany has sent agents to Turkey to help destabilize the country and they have been active in recent years. Now Turkey is taking measures against these spies causing more friction between the two countries. Germany claims these are innocent bystanders caught in a row between Ankara and Berlin yet their activities in Turkey show they were not so innocent after all.
Schulz, a former president of the European Union's legislative body, said in the debate he would end talks with Ankara about joining the bloc because of what he alleged was "President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's increasingly authoritarian policies. A point has been reached where we need to end the economic relationship, the financial relationship, the customs union and the accession talks," Schulz said during the 90-minute debate.
Merkel, who has previously expressed doubts about Turkey ever joining the EU, refused to commit to the same move, but sharply criticized Erdoğan's rule, saying that "Turkey is departing from all democratic practices at breakneck speed. Whether we slam the door shut or Turkey does that is something we'll have to see," she said, adding that any move would need to be coordinated with other European countries.
"I don't plan to break off diplomatic relations with Turkey because we have to outdo each other a little bit during the election campaign to see who is tougher," Merkel said. However, then Merkel surprised everyone by declaring accession talks with Turkey should be terminated.
So the debate showed that the Germans are united on bashing Turkey. Merkel seems more guarded as she has to deal with Turkey after the elections, which she is favored to win. Yet the fact that Germany is giving refuge to those who staged a bloody coup attempt in Turkey and is still sheltering the PKK shows there is a more deep-rooted plan against Turkey than trying to force Erdoğan to change his domestic policies.
Germany seems to see Turkey as an economic rival that has to be dealt with and not a partner to cooperate with. Germany, it also seems, is not happy with Turkey becoming the rising political star in its region that has a say in the way the Middle East is being reshaped. These may well be the considerations that will shape relations between Ankara and Berlin in the future unless Merkel makes a serious U-turn once she is elected.