Presidential Spokesman İbrahim Kalın on Monday said that attacking Turkish President Erdoğan is a reflection of the narrowing vision in Europe, criticizing the anti-Turkey remarks by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and top candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) Martin Schulz.
Kalın stated, on his official Twitter account, the fact that the debate between Merkel and Schulz focused on Turkey and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was no coincidence,
“Attacking Turkey and Erdoğan with total disregard for Germany and Europe's fundamental and urgent needs is a reflection of the narrowing vision in Europe.”
Merkel, Schulz clash on policy in pre-election TV duel
Chancellor Angela Merkel and her centre-left rival Martin Schulz clashed over Germany’s Turkey policy in a televised debate Sunday night, three weeks ahead of the September 24th general elections.The Social Democrat Party (SPD) leader Schulz called for a tougher line on Turkey, and in a surprise move, suggested immediately stopping Ankara’s EU membership talks, and freezing €4 billion ($4.68 billion) pre-accession funds.“If I would become the Chancellor, I would stop Turkey’s EU membership talks,” he said, amid escalating tensions between Germany and Turkey.Schulz had long advocated Turkey’s EU membership, but signalled a policy charge in recent weeks, after recent polls revealed a considerable decline in support to his SPD. The top chancellor candidates went into the debate on Sunday night, with polls showing Merkel’s Christian Democratic bloc (CDU/CSU) was likely to gain 38 percent of votes in the September 24 elections, while the SPD was polled at 24 percent.Merkel defends cautious approach Despite Schulz’s unexpected political manoeuvre on Sunday night, Chancellor Merkel maintained her cautious approach and defended her policy of engaging in dialogue with Turkey to overcome ongoing tensions. “I do not have the intention to break off diplomatic relations with Turkey,” she stressed. Merkel also argued that stopping Turkey’s EU membership talks might be a wrong message to Turkish citizens who continue supporting democratic reforms, and the country’s EU membership perspective. However, she backed recent economic measures which aimed at increasing political pressure on Ankara, and also spoke about the possibility of updating travel advice on Turkey.Commenting on Schulz’s call to end Turkey's EU membership talks, Merkel underlined that such a move needs the support of other EU member states.She also recalled that so far the coalition government's Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, a social democrat politician, did not support such calls.But Merkel said, she would now talk to her colleagues and see if there was a common position on that.Tensions between Berlin and Ankara further escalated last week, as German politicians sharply criticized arrests of two German citizens of Turkish-descent on Thursday in Turkey, on suspicion of supporting terrorist groups.Since the July 2016 coup attempt in Turkey, more than a dozen German citizens were arrested on suspicion of providing support to illegal or terrorist groups.While German politicians demanded their release, Turkish authorities repeatedly underlined that the country’s judiciary was independent, and that any political influence on legal procedures was out of the question.Strained ties between Ankara and BerlinTies between Ankara and Berlin have been strained since the foiled coup attempt, as Turkish leaders slammed Germany for turning a blind eye to outlawed groups and terrorist organizations, which are hostile to Turkey. German politicians on the other hand voiced concerns over the rule of law and human rights issues amid widespread investigations by the Turkish authorities into the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), which orchestrated the defeated coup that left 250 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured. FETÖ has a large network in Germany, with dozens of private schools, businesses and media organizations. Since the coup attempt, nearly 4,000 FETÖ suspects have come to Germany from Turkey and other countries, according to local media reports.Despite repeated requests by Ankara to arrest leading FETÖ figures, the German authorities have turned down extradition requests and argued that Ankara should first provide legally sound evidence. Apart from FETÖ, the terrorist PKK group is also active in the country, and carries out significant propaganda, recruitment and funding activities. The group has nearly 14,000 followers among the Kurdish immigrant population in Germany, according to the BfV (Federal Republic of Germany) domestic intelligence agency.
An anti-Turkey approach in Europe has become a means of ignoring fundamental issues, and relieving oneself through an opponent “other,” he said.
Kalın also noted that societies which identify themselves through an “other” can never find their own identities, which harms that society most.
“Mainstream German politics submitting to populism, otherization or alienation will only incite discrimination and racism," he added.
“Isn’t Germany, which welcomes terrorist organizations such as PKK and FETÖ, aware that they defend terrorists and putschists instead of democracy?” Kalın questioned.
'Send Merkel home', says right-wing rival in constituency battle
Vowing to "shove her off the throne", Leif-Erik Holm of the hard-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) is mounting a robust challenge to Chancellor Angela Merkel in her constituency as she seeks re-election on Sept. 24.Merkel, 63, has held the northeastern district bordering the Baltic Sea since she entered parliament in 1990, though she grew up in Templin - due south and in the next state. Holm, 47, a self-styled "local boy", says he wants to "send Merkel home"."Merkel was very popular here, that's true. But times have changed," he told Reuters, saying her decision in 2015 to leave German borders open to more than a million migrants would cost her. "People are asking 'what is she doing?'"Merkel won the constituency with 56 percent of the vote at the last national election, in 2013. Now, the AfD is emboldened in the district after beating her conservatives into third place in the wider northeastern region of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern last year."Merkel has failed in a lot of people's eyes and they are looking for an alternative," said Holm, a former presenter at a local radio station.Merkel's conservatives enjoy a handsome lead over rivals nationally and Germany's mixed electoral system means that even in the unlikely scenario Holm does beat her, she will still win a parliamentary seat from a list of candidates who top up those elected directly from constituencies.But second place is a real possibility for Holm, said Jan Mueller at Rostock University: "He cuts a moderate profile."AfD co-chair Frauke Petry says the constituency is "a prestige target" for the party.Marking it as her turf, Merkel spent a full day touring the district on Thursday, promising no repeat of the 2015 refugee influx and taking every opportunity to pose for 'selfie' photos with voters and their children.As she made her way through a crowd of some 200 people for a rally in the picturesque town of Greifswald, a plane flew overhead trailing a banner reading: "Vote AfD". When she spoke, a handful of protestors tried to drown her out with whistles."I don't think Germany's future will be built with whistles -- that isn't going to work," said Merkel, appealing to the crowd to vote her in for another four years."I need your support!" she said to loud applause.Salim Jarrah, 42, who came to Germany from Lebanon 21 years ago and runs a restaurant in the town, said Merkel was doing a good job of running the country."Who could do better?" Jarrah, now a German citizen, told Reuters after presenting Merkel with flowers. "She's likeable."In Roevershagen, some 50 miles (80 km) to the west, Merkel was met with a more hostile reception when she arrived for a walkabout at a shopping centre."Merkel must go!" shouted one protestor. "Go home, traitor!" said another.Hartmut Jahnholz, an AfD supporter from nearby Rostock, said she had not fulfilled her oath to protect the German people."Just the opposite," he said in Roevershagen. "She opened the borders, that's all she's done."
“It does not matter which political party will be victorious in the German elections because it is now obvious which mindset will prevail. The fact that neither Merkel nor Schulz addressed discrimination or increasing racism throughout the debate shows what the German policy has come to.
“We hope that this problematic atmosphere that sacrifices Turkish-German relations caused by a narrow political vision changes soon,” Kalın concluded.