Rejecting Erdoğan's address shows Germany's double standards on freedoms, Ankara says

DAILY SABAH WITH AGENCIES
ISTANBUL
Published 30.06.2017 00:02

Ankara Thursday slammed Berlin's decision to reject a request from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to address Turkish citizens while attending the G20 summit in Germany next week, saying the decision is a result of double standards on Turkey.

The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the statements made by some German politicians about Erdoğan's visit were "regretful", while German authorities had requested Ankara submit an official petition for permission.

Germany will reject a request by Erdoğan to address Turkish citizens while attending the G20 summit in Germany next week, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said yesterday.

A Foreign Ministry statement also criticized the recent remarks made by Germany's Social Democratic Party (SPD) leader Martin Schulz, the former president of European Parliament, who said he does not want Erdoğan to hold big rallies in Germany. "Particularly, the approach of an individual, who served as the president of the European Parliament, against the freedom of gathering and freedom of expression, reflects the true mentality that we are faced with and the double standards of those who attempt to teach others lessons," the statement said.

"We reject and strongly condemn this individual's unacceptable words on our president," it added.

Erdoğan last addressed Turkish-Germans in May 2015, in the city of Karlsruhe. The country's large Turkish diaspora, which is about 3 million, is a legacy of Germany's massive post-war guest worker program in the 1960s and 1970s.

According to Gabriel, Ankara had submitted a formal request Wednesday for Erdoğan to speak to Turkish citizens living in Germany on the sidelines of the July 7-8 summit of leading economies. A spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel also confirmed that Erdoğan's request to speak at a non-G20 event would be denied. Gabriel said such appearances by Erdoğan would be "inappropriate," citing security concerns for his request being rejected. "We don't have the police forces available to ensure security given the G20." Gabriel said. "But I also told them openly that such an appearance was not appropriate given the conflict situation that exists with Turkey, and that it would not fit into the political landscape at this time."

German-Turkish relations have been strained over the past few months after German local authorities canceled public appearances by Turkish ministers and government officials campaigning ahead of the April 16 referendum in several German towns and cities, based on reasons such as the inadequacy of parking lots and security concerns, while allowing pro-PKK events and Turkish opposition officials to rally against the referendum. In addition, Germany's stance with regard to the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) has also been a source of tension as the country has been a safe haven for hundreds of suspected FETÖ members, including high ranking NATO military officers. Turkish authorities also recently rejected to permit a German parliamentary defense commission delegation to pay a visit to German soldiers at İncirlik Air Base, claiming some members of the committee for having links with the PKK. Since 2015, Germany had stationed around 260 troops, six Tornado surveillance jets and a tanker aircraft at İncirlik Air Base. The German government on June 7 approved a plan to remove its troop reconnaissance aircraft from İncirlik and relocate it to an air base in Jordan.

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