German politicians critical of Erdoğan’s pre-vote visit

German politicians critical of Erdoğan’s pre-vote visit

BERLIN - Agence France-Presse
German politicians critical of Erdoğan’s pre-vote visit

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is surrounded by bodyguards as he visits the coal mine in Soma on May 14. AFP Photo

German politicians have criticized an upcoming pre-election appearance in the country by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the wake of a deadly mine disaster.

Amid mounting anger within Turkey over his response to last week’s coalmine blast in which 301 died, Erdoğan faced condemnation and calls to cancel his visit next Saturday from across the political spectrum in Germany.

Erdoğan is due to address supporters in Germany -- where 3 million Turks or people of Turkish origin live -- with a visit to the western city of Cologne.

For the first time, some 2.6 million Turks living abroad – including 1.5 million in Germany alone -- will be able to cast their votes in the August presidential vote in which Erdoğan is expected to stand.

Aydan Özoğuz, a Social Democrat who is the government’s integration czar and its first national minister with Turkish roots, described as “absolutely shattering and unacceptable” pictures from Turkey showing action taken against demonstrators.

“Such pictures distance Turkey from democratic conditions,” she told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung newspaper (FAS).

Images of Erdoğan’s aide kicking a protester who was held down have sparked outrage in Turkey, where critics say the prime minister failed to show sensitivity in the crisis.

A senior member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives, Wolfgang Bosbach, who is chairman of the Bundestag’s interior affairs committee, said the Cologne event should be called off.

He told yesterday’s Bild newspaper it was already difficult to accept Erdoğan bringing the Turkish election campaign to Germany.

“In the current situation he should be concerning himself from dawn til dusk with how the devastating mine accident in Turkey could have happened,” Bosbach said.

From the ranks of the opposition, Juergen Trittin of the Greens, told FAS that Erdoğan had “lost all sense of reality,” while the far-left Linke’s Sevim Dağdelen called for a protest against the visit.