Turkey is counting down the days to the constitutional reform referendum. The some 3 million Turkish citizens living in Germany will play a critical part in the outcome of the vote. Naturally, Turkish politicians of all stripes want to campaign in Germany to persuade their compatriots to vote to support them. This is actually the root cause of the recent deterioration of ties between Turkey and Germany.
Campaigns are an essential requirement of free and fair elections. The energized campaign in Turkey has focused the electorate on the important constitutional changes, with both those in favor and against the amendments arguing their cases on television and at rallies across the country. However, the German political class has found it appropriate to directly interfere in this democratic process, which is none of its business, sparking anti-German sentiment among the Turkish public. This escalating discourse, direct German interference in Turkey's internal affairs and the involvement of journalists working for German newspapers in pro-terrorist propaganda in Turkey can have no other explanation.
Germany had already failed the humanitarian test in the eyes of the Turkish public due to its stance toward refugees. The German government, despite its promises, used groundless excuses not to lift visa restrictions for Turkish citizens. Delaying tactics on Turkey's EU membership process and the disappointing attitude after the failed July 15 military coup attempt had already pushed trust toward Germany to a historical low. The ban on political rallies preventing Turkish politicians from reaching the Turkish electorate in Germany is just the latest in a long list of measures that is causing consternation.
Germany has become the center of anti-Muslim attacks in Europe. Far-right, anti-migrant attitudes and hate speech has become a regular occurrence. Fascism in on the rise. German authorities are yet to shed any light on the spate of crimes that targeted Turkish nationals, including murders and deadly arson attacks. A majority of Turkish nationals living in Germany are happy to be a productive part of German society, but are rightfully concerned about the latest developments. The political indifference toward terrorist groups that kill innocent civilians in Turkey is inexplicable. Groups recognized as terrorists by Germany are allowed freedom to operate in German cities, while legitimate politicians with a huge following in Germany are banned. Germany is the leading member of the EU. Its decisions influence the direction of the union. Moreover, Turkey has deep historical and emotional ties with the country. Provocative acts, the distortion of facts, manipulation and efforts to find a scapegoat should end for the good of Germany and bilateral ties. German politicians' failure to heed such advice has already fueled right-wing populism, which is spreading out from Germany to the rest of the continent. It is disturbing to witness how the political center is moving to the far-right by adopting extremist rhetoric. Germany's considerable influence over the rest of the continent should not be used to push the EU toward the darkness of right-wing populism and fascism. Germany should discard its patronizing tone, act like a leader rather than aggravate the many problems faced by Europe.
Our call is to the German elites who have remained silent until now despite increasing xenophobia, as the German government tramples on the democratic rights of millions and politics is under siege of populist politicians. The German intelligentsia, with its loyalty to multiculturalism and democracy, has the responsibility to prevent the re-emergence of the Nazi regime. The most recent example of populist discourse in the German media was penned by the editor of Die Welt, Ulf Poschardt, where he addressed his passionate letter to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, asking for the release of his reporter Deniz Yücel. The overt naivety of the letter made us smile. Mr. Poschardt, in his letter, asks Erdoğan to release Yücel. Unfortunately, this is impossible, because under the Turkish legal system, the president does not have the right to interfere in a judicial process and order the release of a detained suspect. We do not know how things work in Germany, but in Turkey, a suspect is not freed just because the president says so.
We, as Daily Sabah, can say that we read your letter and truly appreciate the feelings you expressed. If only your government's generosity of spirit toward terrorists could extend to the millions of refugees in need. You can be sure that Yücel's case will be resolved long before the friends and families of the nine Turks killed by a right-wing German terrorist group find justice. We will closely follow Yücel's case and we are certain the independent Turkish judiciary will serve justice. Daily Sabah staff often visit Germany and consequently, have first-hand knowledge of your country. Each time one of our colleagues visits your country, we ask them to bring back some of those delicious chocolates. You may praise our football teams and pickles, as we do your footballers and chocolates. However, when we take a glimpse at how you treat the core of the German national team, players of foreign background, like Mesut Özil, Jerome Boateng and Lukas Podolski and their fellow compatriots who made Germany home, we find it hard to sympathize with the emergent right-wing forces dominating German politics and society and no one has the right to ask us to do so.