Merkel voices ‘confidence’ in Erdoğan’s upcoming visit to Germany
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Turkish Communications Minister Lütfi Elvan pose during the opening ceremony of the International Space and Aviation Fair at the Schönefeld airport near Berlin, Germany, May 20. AA PhotoGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel has stressed “a sense of responsibility and sensitivity” ahead of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s upcoming visit to Germany.
“I am confident that he will be doing this on Saturday with a sense of responsibility and sensitivity,” Merkel said in an interview published by German daily Passau Neue Presse on May 22, referring to the rally that will be held by Erdoğan in the German city of Cologne on May 24.
Erdoğan has talked to Merkel on the phone on May 22 before his visit to Germany, according to a written statement released by the Turkish Prime Ministry.
Two leaders discussed the recent tragic accident in a coal mine in Soma in which 301 miners were killed as Merkel expressed her condolences to the Turkish prime minister. The recent developments in Ukraine were also discussed.
The German police are reportedly on alert over reports that tens of thousands of Turkish Germans will participate in protests at the event. For the first time ever, 2.6 million Turkish voters living abroad – including 1.5 million in Germany alone - will be eligible to cast their votes in the August presidential vote, in which Erdoğan is widely expected to stand.
Erdoğan’s visit comes at a sensitive time, having faced condemnation and calls to cancel his visit from across the political spectrum in Germany following his response to last week’s coalmine blast in which 301 died. The German magazine Der Spiegel has also been condemned by Turkey’s pro-government media over its reports on the Soma mining disaster.
However, there was tension between the two countries even before the Soma disaster, with Erdoğan criticizing German President Joachim Gauch after his critical speech during a visit to Ankara in late April.
Erdoğan’s last visit to Cologne, in 2008, also caused controversy in Germany, after he said that assimilation, which he defined as a person being “forced” to abandon their culture, was a “crime against humanity.”
Around 3 million Turks or people of Turkish origin live in Germany.