There is definitely something wrong in Germany regarding Turkey. First, there has been a special edition of Der Spiegel, extremely critical of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, written and printed in (bad) Turkish, on the eve of the presidential elections. Then, the same periodical leaked the contents of a top-secret report dating back to 2009, where it was clearly stated that the German Intelligence Service BND had been wiretapping phone conversations of Turkish officials. In a matter of two weeks, Turkey and Germany have found themselves immersed in a full-fledged political and diplomatic crisis.
Just a few months ago, world public opinion had the opportunity to discover, for the first time, German Chancellor Merkel losing her temper. She was rightly doing so, after having discovered that her phone was systematically wiretapped by the U.S. National Security Agency. This time though, she preferred to keep a low profile, not wanting to comment on questions regarding Germany spying on a NATO ally. She even vehemently protested that the two issues should not be compared.
Relations between Turkey and Germany have not been warm since the end of Schroeder/ Fischer era; however, this is the first time that an overt diplomatic and political crisis emerges so abruptly. Since the beginning of her mandate, Chancellor Merkel has consistently sabotaged bilateral relations with Turkey, and has positioned Germany as a major obstacle vis-à-vis Turkey's engagement with the EU.
Germany is not just any other foreign country; an entire century of close collaboration between Prussia (and later, Germany) and the Ottoman Empire acquired a new dimension after 1947. Then, the two countries forged stronger bonds than ever before. At a time when Germany, a country not used to immigration, needed a young workforce, Turkey, a country with no emigration traditions, sent hundreds of thousands of skilled workers, and it now comprises the only Turkish diaspora of over 3 million people that live and prosper in Germany. Additionally, there is much German investment in Turkey, virtually all Turkish industries have been modelled according to German DIN norms, and the country that tops the charts for tourism each year in Turkey is Germany.
In Germany, the Turkish population is commonly referred to as German Turks, and remains one of the best examples of integration, especially if compared with other migrant minorities all over Europe. Both countries are part of NATO, and as of today, batteries of Patriot missiles belonging to the German Armed Forces are located in the southeastern border of Turkey to support common NATO defense. All these examples of cooperation are seemingly irrelevant to German Secret Services, so long as they deemed it necessary to spy on the phone conversations between Secretary of State Kerry and Turkish officials. Prime Minister (now President-elect) Erdoğan has been lecturing tens of thousands of citizens with Turkish origins in Germany to become good German citizens and to properly learn German. Yet, it has been to no avail, so long as he has become the "bête noire" of the Christian Democrats. At this juncture, a simple but important question becomes unavoidable: what is happening in Germany? What does the Merkel government want from Turkey? Are we allies or does the CSU/CDU want Turkey out of the alliance? How come Der Spiegel, a center-left periodical, has become the instigator of the dirty work aiming at sabotaging our relations? In the light of recent developments, asking these questions has become legitimate and necessary.
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