Merkel says ZDF’s poem on President Erdoğan ‘insulting’

Merkel says ZDF’s poem on President Erdoğan ‘insulting’

Merkel says ZDF’s poem on President Erdoğan ‘insulting’

AP photo

German Chancellor Angela Merkel criticized a video of a comedian reading a poem about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Germany’s state broadcaster ZDF and called the text “insulting,” during a phone call with Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu. 

“Both prime ministers agreed that the poem was intentionally insulting,” German government’s spokesperson Steffen Seibert said while providing information on the April 3 discussion between Merkel and Davutoğlu. 

According to Seibert, Merkel said the poem was “unacceptable” and stressed that the broadcaster removed the content after apologizing on April 1 for “crossing the line into slander.”

Merkel had also underlined the importance of freedom of expression and freedom of the press in Germany, while recognizing certain limitations to these principles. 

“Humor is part of freedom of expression and the press but it is not without limits,” he added, but declined to comment on whether the chancellor extended an apology over the incident. 

Seibert also evaded the question over which prime minister brought up the issue of the poem during the phone call, which mainly focused on the migrant deal between Turkey and the European Union. 

The aforementioned poem was read by German satirist Jan Böhmermann on his late night show “Neo Magazin Royale” on March 31, only days after a diplomatic crisis ensued between Ankara and Berlin over a video ridiculing Erdoğan that was aired on German regional public broadcaster NDR.  

German Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier had slammed Turkey after the latter summoned Germany’s ambassador to Ankara over the video, saying Turkey should “share common European values” as a partner nation of the EU. 

“I think we can expect from such a partner nation [of the EU] that it shares our common European values,” said Steinmeier said in Tashkent on March 30, adding that this expectation was even more valid when the EU was “currently opening further accession chapters and intend to discuss them.