On Sunday, thousands of peaceful demonstrators gathered in Cologne, Germany to protest the coup attempt in Turkey and express their solidarity with the Turkish people. They observed a moment of silence for Gülenist Terror Organization (FETÖ) leader Fethullah Gülen's victims and celebrated the courage of ordinary citizens who risked everything to stop Gülen's power grab.
Ahead of the event, German authorities portrayed the pro-democracy crowd as barbarians. Having claimed that the protest would turn violent, Germany deployed 3,000 police officers and banned Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's video call to the venue. The message was clear: Neither Turks nor their president is welcome in Europe.
Since July 15, many Turks have been wondering why self-proclaimed friends of Turkish democracy such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel were reluctant to take a stand against terrorists in uniform. On Sunday, it became clear that European leaders no longer practice what they preach. By trying to stop a pro-democracy demonstration instead of the neo-Nazis who targeted it, Mrs. Merkel effectively surrendered to extremists among her country's citizens.
German authorities did not just exercise poor judgement. They insulted an entire country and proved completely unreliable. In response, we must remind Europe why they desperately need Turkey's friendship.
The obvious way to prove that Turks make loyal friends and fierce enemies is to send German troops stationed at İncirlik Air Base back home. In recent months, Turkey ignored repeated threats by German politicians to withdraw their forces unless Turkish authorities allowed them to visit the base. Let us call their bluff and see how they plan to remain relevant in the Middle East.