German politicians continue to use anti-Turkey rhetoric ahead of elections

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published 28.08.2017 23:21
Updated 28.08.2017 23:25

In order to gain an advantage in the upcoming elections, German politicians are continuing to use Turkey in their rhetoric as if it were a domestic politics issue, regardless of their ideological stances. Martin Schulz, head of the Social Democrats and Germany's center-left chancellor candidate, criticized German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday for being hesitant on Turkey's so-called "provocations." "How long will you let Turkey direct us?" he asked, accusing Merkel for being inactive. However, Schulz is not the only German politician to use Turkey to gain an advantage in domestic politics.

As a matter of fact, the usage of Turkey as election material is becoming a common point among German politicians. Schulz agreeing with German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel for advising German citizens to not go to Turkey on holiday is just one example of this commonality.

Horst Seehofer, leader of the small partner of the German government the Christian Social Union (CSU) and the prime minister of the Bavaria province, also demanded to stop the financial aid to Turkey, which was given as a part of the preparation process to EU membership, from the EU budget. "There is not a single week without a new provocation from the Ankara," he said. The head of the Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU)'s assembly group, Volker Kauder also criticized Turkey by claiming that Turkey is a light year away from European values.

Similarly, the co-head of the Germany' Green Party, Cem Özdemir said in a statement that was published yesterday in Schweriner Volkszeitung daily that Germany should have a harsher attitude against Turkey. Speaking of President Erdoğan, Özdemir said that he [Erdoğan] collects hostages against Germany and only understands the language of money and toughness. "We should use these for Erdoğan's government to release all the political prisoners," he indicated.

Meanwhile, in a recent interview with Der Spiegel, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel objected the opposition party's call to put an end to Turkey's EU membership process. Stating that the process is already not moving forward, Gabriel said the end of the negotiations would send a wrong message to EU supporters in Turkey and would further strengthen President Erdoğan.

"We are not against Turks or Turkey. On the contrary, we are hoping for the time to come that these common features of us can be effective again," Gabriel said, adding that despite recent arguments, Turkey's position in NATO is not a point of discussion. Gabriel further indicated that they do not want Turkey to move away from the West and get closer with the Russia.

Gabriel further said that they asked other EU countries to join their economic measures against Turkey yet some countries had different opinions than Germany. "Not all the countries in Europe are on the same page with us regarding Turkey. Some countries want to pursue cooperation with Turkey as we did in the past. We don't share the same opinion," he said, expressing that they failed to get support from other EU countries.

On the campaign trail ahead of next month's general election, Alexander Gauland, deputy chairman of the Alternative for Germany party, had criticized Integration Commissioner Aydan Özoğuz for recently claiming there was no specific German culture. He told a rally in Eichsfeld, central Germany, that Özoğuz should come down there and see what German culture was really like.

"Then she will never return again and then, thank God, we can dump her in Anatolia," he told the crowd amid applause and cheers, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper reported Monday. Gabriel called the inflammatory remarks "unacceptable."

Speaking to Turkish daily Takvim, the leader of the Diplomats International (DMW) Professor Günther Meinel criticized German media for not sharing the truth but instead constantly discrediting Turkey. "In this respect, the biggest duty is on the politicians to solve this problem, since this news is harmful for both countries."

Emphasizing the strategic importance of Turkey for the Europe, Meinel also said that if Turkey leaves NATO, this would be a disaster for Europe. "The disagreement between Turkey and Germany may last for a little more while. However, after the upcoming elections in Germany passes, I believe things will calm down between the two countries," he added.

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