Erdogan Lashes Out at Germany Once Again, This Time over Rally Ban during G-20 Summit

A handout photo made available by the Turkish President Press office shows Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (C) and his wife Emine Erdogan (L) attending a ceremony to inaugurate Turkish corvette 'Kinaliada' in Istanbul, Turkey, 03 July 2017. Photo: Turkish Presidency handout/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

  • Turkish President Recep Erdogan has once again lambasted Germany using strong language.
  • This time the reason has been denying his request to hold a rally for Turks in Germany during the upcoming G-20 summit.
  • Erdogan has declared that by banning his rally Germany is ‘committing political suicide’.
  • Main reason for the German ban appear to be concerns of the German government that Erdogan might use the rally to campaign in favor of a referendum for reintroducing the death penalty in Turkey.
  • German political artist collective has launched a mock campaign urging the ‘murder’ of dictators during the G-20 summit in Hamburg, and mentioning Erdogan together with Russian President Putin and Saudi King Salman.

Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan has assaulted Germany verbally once again declaring that the refusal to grant him permission to hold a rally for Turks living in the country is “political suicide.”

Last week, Germany’s Foreign Ministry also warned Erdogan’s bodyguards not to attend the upcoming G-20 summit in Hamburg, after last month they assaulted protesters in Washington, D.C.

Germany’s warning for Erdogan’s security personnel comes against the backdrop of a long-standing diplomatic conflict with Turkey fueled by a wide range of issues.

Relations between Germany and Turkey keep sinking to new lows as Turkish President Recep Erdogan and the Turkish Cabinet continue to implement measures deemed in the West as undemocratic, and do not hesitate to use “Nazi” slurs against Germany and other Western European countries such as the Netherlands and Austria.

Just one of the prominent issues in German-Turkish relations has been Erdogan’s statement that Turkey might hold a referendum on reintroducing the death penalty.

German Chancellor Merkel has ruled out allowing Turks in Germany to vote in such a referendum. Turkey’s bid to join the EU appears to have ground to a halt precisely because of Erdogan’s controversial policies and moves.

On Monday, a German Foreign Ministry official warned Turkish President Recep Erdogan on Monday against even appearing at a Turkish consulate or speaking via web video link, when he arrives in Germany later this week for the G20 summit, after last week the German government denied a request to alllow Erdogan to address the ethnic Turks in Germany at a rally in the city of Dortmund.

The refusal came after last week Germany adopted a new law banning non-EU leaders from campaigning on German soil within three months of polls in their country. Foreign officials will also need to file a request with the German government to hold any kind of political event in the country.

The new law was introduced after several Turkish politicians campaigned in Germany ahead of the April 16 presidential republic referendum in Turkey. The referendum results expand Erdogan’s powers immensely, and are still being disputed by the Turkish opposition.

Germany’s ‘Suicide’

Turkish President Recep Erdogan lashed out at Germany over its refusal to let him address Turks at a rally in Dortmund.

Just ahead of talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel, he said Germany was committing “political suicide”, DW reported.

“What kind of mentality is that? That’s very ugly. I have never seen anything like that. Germany is committing suicide. That’s a political suicide,” Erdogan said in an interview with weekly German news magazine Die Zeit.

“Germany must correct this error,” Erdogan added, arguing that he “could not be silenced.”

The Turkish president is expected to address the issue when he meets Merkel on Thursday, ahead of the G20 summit in Hamburg.

As he lashed out against Germany, however, the Turkish President did strike something of a conciliatory note when he said Germany and Turkey needed each other. He also said that, on a personal level, he did not have a problem with Chancellor Merkel.

In the interview, Erdogan also said he couldn’t understand Berlin’s support for Deniz Yucel, a German-Turkish correspondent for the Die Zeit newspaper, who has been detained in Turkey for more than 140 days on allegations of terrorism-related activities.

Germany has said Yucel is being held without justification, with Merkel saying Germany would do “everything in its power” to have him freed.

“That Frau Merkel would ever bring the rescue of a terror suspect to the agenda is something that, for me, was very, very strange,” Erdogan said.

Activists disguised as (L-R) US President Donald Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron, Turkish President Recep Erdogan, British Prime Minister Theresa May, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin, squeeze a big inflated rubber globe during an event organized by the activist group Attac, to protest against issues of globalization for the upcoming G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, 04 July 2017. Photo: Focke Strangmann/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

‘Murder a Dictator’

Meanwhile, German political artist collective the Center for Political Beauty (ZPS) has offered the prize of a luxury car to anyone willing to murder a dictator at the upcoming G20 summit in Hamburg, while making it clear that the offer was a joke.

The car in question, a handsome black Mercedes convertible, was placed on a pedestal outside Angela Merkel’s chancellery in Berlin with the slogan “Do you want this car? Kill the dictatorship!” next to pictures of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Russian President Vladimir Putin and King Salman of Saudi Arabia, who has already pulled out of attending the G-20 summit.

In a tweet, the ZPS upped the ante by adding, “Let the hunt begin!”

According to Turkish news agency Anadolu, the Turkish embassy responded by sending a note of protest to the German government, calling the ZPS intervention “unacceptable” and “glorifying violence.”

Regardless of Ankara’s protests, the ZPS is planning to distribute thousands of stickers and flags at the G20 protests in Hamburg, bearing the more direct messages: “Kill Putin!” “Kill Erdogan!” in German, Turkish and Russian.

To sidestep any legal trouble, the flags include a small footnote that reads: “On no account take this seriously!”

“There’s huge demand. Obviously there would be criminal charges to have people walk around Hamburg [with flags calling for the assassination of a foreign leader]. We have whole legal practices checking everything we do. There’s nothing that can incriminate us in any way,” ZPS founder Philipp Ruch told DW.

The action is designed to protest the cooperation between democracies and dictatorships.

“We think the German government shouldn’t have anything to do with a dictatorship,” he said. “We agree with [former British Prime Minister Winston] Churchill: Dictatorship is the natural enemy of democracy. There are renowned historians who say that the Putin regime’s great plan is the destruction of Europe.”

“One dictator has already canceled,” Ruch added, referring to Saudi King Salman’s withdrawal.

“Our aim is for all three dictators not to come. We’re going to do everything we can so that they notice they aren’t wanted in Germany,” he said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) looks on as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) walks by, during a line up for the group photo at the NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium, 25 May 2017. Photo: Armando Babani/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

Long-Standing German-Turkish Issues

A number of issues have become especially problematic between Germany and Turkey, two supposedly close NATO allies.

In June 2016, Turkey banned a German MP delegation from visiting the German troops in Incirlik in response to the German government’s decision to recognize the killing of around 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1917 as genocide, known as the Armenian Genocide.

Although the Armenian Genocide crisis died down in the following months, tensions between Germany and Turkey have remained high. They flared up again before Turkey’s presidential republic referendum on April 16, which Erdogan and his party AKP won with a very narrow majority, with the Turkish opposition disputing the results, and international observers finding numerous violations.

Before the referendum, several German local authorities banned Erdogan’s government ministers from campaign among Turkish expats in Germany which caused outrage in Ankara and led the Turkish President to insult the Germans with references to Nazism.

A number of German lawmakers have also been outraged at what they see as flagrant repression of freedoms during Erdogan’s crackdown on civil servants and the media following the failed July 2016 coup attempted by the Turkish military.

Dozens of journalists have been imprisoned in Turkey, including Turkish-German correspondent of a leading German newspaper, Deniz Yucel.

Turkey recently said it was going to stop teaching evolution in high schools, and will scale down the teaching of the legacy of secularism of its founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. In another development, Istanbul’s gay pride march was prevented for a third year in a row.

Crucial European members of NATO such as Germany, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands – as well as North American member Canada – recently blocked Turkey from hosting the 2018 NATO Summit, which will be held in Brussels instead.

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