Status: 10.11.2023, 11:58 a.m.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is coming to Germany for a visit. © Tunahan Turhan/SOPA Images via ZUMA Press Wire/dpa
The Turkish president has repeatedly lashed out at Israel and the West in the Gaza war. Now he is travelling to Germany. A difficult visit for Chancellor Scholz.
Berlin - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will make a short visit to Germany on 17 November. As deputy government spokeswoman Christiane Hoffmann announced on Friday in Berlin, a joint dinner with Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) is planned at the Federal Chancellery. The conversation will cover "the full range of political issues," she said. Before the meeting with Scholz, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier will receive Erdogan.
It is the president's first visit to Germany since 2020, when he attended then-Chancellor Angela Merkel's (CDU) conference on Libya. Scholz had invited the Turkish head of state to Germany after his re-election as president in May this year. The Federal Chancellor travelled to Turkey in March 2022 for an inaugural visit.
The visit is considered sensitive, especially because of Erdogan's stance on the Gaza war. After the terrorist attack on Israel with more than 1400,<> dead, Erdogan had described the Islamist Hamas as a "liberation organization". The United States and the EU, which are allied with Turkey in NATO, classify it as a terrorist organization.
Turkey is an important partner
As a result of the Gaza war, Erdogan has broken off contact with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying: "Netanyahu is no longer a kind of interlocutor for us. We've deleted it, we've crossed it out." In the past, the Turkish president had already described Israel as a "terrorist state" because of its Palestinian policy and repeatedly presented himself as a champion of the Palestinian cause.
On the other hand, Turkey is an important partner for the German government. Around three million people of Turkish origin live in Germany, more than anywhere else outside Turkey. There are also close economic relations. German holidaymakers are the second largest tourist group in Turkey after the Russians.
For Germany and the EU, NATO partner Turkey also plays an important role as a bridge to the Islamic world. The country also plays a central role in managing immigration to Europe. The talks between Scholz and Erdogan are likely to focus on reviving the EU-Turkey agreement on the accommodation of refugees in Turkey.
FDP: Erdogan's hate speech against Israel intolerable
Erdogan, however, has repeatedly clashed with his allies in NATO. With regard to the Gaza war, he accused Western countries of hypocrisy and condemned Israel's actions as a "crime against humanity".
The German government has so far refrained from criticising it. Nevertheless, clear words came from individual coalition politicians. FDP Secretary General Bijan Djir-Sarai, for example, said: "Erdogan's constant hate speech against Israel and his solidarity with the terrorist organization Hamas are intolerable. This must have consequences and must not be ignored by the Federal Government."
Relations between Germany and Turkey have often been turbulent in the past. In 2017, the detention of German citizens put a heavy strain on relations between Berlin and Ankara. A low point was reached when Erdogan personally attacked then-Chancellor Merkel with Nazi comparisons. Dpa