Ankara blasts Germany over Gabriel remarks as war of words continues

Ankara blasts Germany over Gabriel remarks as war of words continues

Ankara blasts Germany over Gabriel remarks as war of words continues

AFP photo

Ankara has slammed Germany over German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel’s statement that Turkey will never join the European Union as long as it is governed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.  

Gabriel’s remarks came on Aug. 24 amid a bitter ongoing war of words between Ankara and Berlin.

“He should mind his own business. He should mind his own country’s business and not try to put Turkey in line,” Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said after Friday prayers in Ankara on Aug. 25.

“No one can put Turkey in line. No one has the right to intervene in Turkey’s internal affairs,” Yıldırım added. 

In an interview with German daily Bild, Gabriel had accused Erdoğan of failing to take accession talks with the EU seriously.

“It is clear that in this state, Turkey will never become a member of the EU,” he said. 

“It’s not because we don’t want them but because the Turkish government and Erdoğan are moving fast away from everything that Europe stands for,” he added. 

Gabriel’s remarks were also criticized by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.

“We see statements from Germany that cross the line,” Çavuşoğlu told reporters during a joint press briefing with his Polish and Romanian counterparts, Witold Waszczykowski and Teodor Melescanu respectively, in Warsaw on Aug. 25. 

“Some EU countries need to understand that they are not the bosses or owners of other EU countries or countries like Turkey that are not yet members of the bloc. Populism before elections doesn’t benefit anyone,” he added, referring to the Sept. 24 elections in Germany.  

“We don’t find such populist approaches before the elections appropriate. My friend Sigmar Gabriel previously told me that Germany has made very serious mistakes against Turkey and asked what steps Berlin should take in Malta and several other platforms. I told him, ‘Unilateral steps wouldn’t be healthy and permanent. Let’s take steps together. If you take a step then we would take two,’” he added. 

Çavuşoğlu also commented on Gabriel’s Aug. 21 remarks, in which he said Germany should “support the democratically minded majority of Turks who do not back Erdoğan.”

“More than half the country is democratically minded. They didn’t support him,” Gabriel said, referring to the vote ratios in the April 16 constitutional referendum in Turkey to an executive presidential system.

Some 51.4 percent of the more than 58 million Turkish voters said “yes” to the charter amendments at the time.

“He [Gabriel] says they are responsible for the 48 percent who voted ‘no.’ What gives you the right to say that? Are you a governor of Turkey? Is Turkey your colony and you are responsible for these people? Can we, as Turkey, say ‘We are responsible for those who didn’t vote for Gabriel’s party?’ They should respect the country’s sovereignty,” Çavuşoğlu said. 

He also noted that “our relations with Germany are carried out with a win-win understanding,” stressing that Germany remains an “ally and a friendly country for Turkey.”

“Germany is our friend. The German people are too … Elections come and go, but relations and friendships are permanent. Based on that, I advise them to act carefully,” Çavuşoğlu said. 

Tensions between Turkey and Germany have been high for number of months, with Erdoğan angering Germany - home to 3 million Turkey-origin residents, about half of whom are eligible to vote in the election on Sept. 24 - by accusing the German authorities of “Nazi-like behavior.”

He also urged German Turks to boycott the country’s main parties in the general election.