A heated debate has begun in Germany on the eve of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's planned visit to Cologne on May 24. So, why have the media and political actors in a country that sent its president to Turkey last month started a campaign to prevent Erdoğan's visit to Cologne?
Authorities in Berlin indicate that the debates do not reflect an official attitude. The German government's spokesperson Steffen Seibert said the prime minister is a really close and important partner and that Erdoğan would be welcome in Germany. But he added, "The government expects Erdoğan to approach this appearance with responsibility and sensitivity."
We really wonder why the German government did not give a similar warning to their President Joachim Gauck, who visited Turkey last month and exceeded the limits of diplomacy. With some good will, we can interpret this inconsiderate act of drawing limits for a guest prime minister as a gesture for radical right voters before the upcoming elections.
It is possible to explain the attitudes of the German right-wing, Christian democrats and Greens with the election atmosphere.
However, we should consider some newspapers which deceive German citizens by making stories out of the claims that were even denied by the claimers.
We did not forget that these newspapers compared Erdoğan to Hitler, which is a hate crime. They should have a ground for likening Hitler to a leader who came to power with free and democratic elections, ended a 30-year civil war in the country, ended the military domination and took significant steps toward democratization. Media organs such as Der Spiegel, Die Welt, Die Zeit, Frankfurter Allgemeine, Frankfurter Rundschau, ARD and ZDF act as if they are governed by a single headquarters.
These papers also reflected the Gezi Park events that happened last summer with the same hostile attitude. They made stories out of lies such as "police's using orange gas on protesters," which even made opponents laugh. And they now display some images of violence which supposedly happened during the protests after the recent mining accident in Turkey, which have no relation with the accident itself. They even took for granted the rumors suggesting that Erdoğan slapped one of the protesters. However, there is no evidence proving this claim. Above all, Taner Kuruca, the man who was slapped according to the claims said "At the entrance of the market, I didn't realize that the Prime Minister actually leaned forward to preserve me from his guards. I thought the slap came from his direction at first, but it came out that it was not the prime minister, but his guard."
All the press members in Turkey, especially pro-government media organs, have showed great sensitivity toward the mining tragedy in Turkey. Political figures and company owners held responsible for the tragedy have received harsh criticism. Erdoğan also guaranteed that his government would call those responsible to account in courts without any discrimination. The already independent prosecutors also took action and a large-scale process of investigation was got started. The claims suggesting that police and some names among Erdoğan's entourage used violence on protesters have also been condemned by newspapers. Consequently, the danger of protecting those in charge of the mining tragedy in the political, bureaucratic and private sector is out of the question.
The German audience should think about these newspapers' commercial relationship with the Doğan Group, a media monopoly which rigidly opposes the Turkish government. Recently, a journalist from the Doğan Group clearly expressed that the hostile attitude of some German newspapers is caused by the conflict between Turkish government and the company they serve. I guess Germans who buy papers to obtain information about Turkey, would not want to be deceived.