PKK fight top issue in Erdoğan’s EU trip

PKK fight top issue in Erdoğan’s EU trip

Serkan Demirtaş BERLIN
PKK fight top issue in Erdoğan’s EU trip

Turkish Premier Erdoğan (R) hails historic German-Turkish cooperation by saying ‘Wir sind zusammen’ (We are together) at a meeting with German Chancellor Merkel. AA photo

Turkey’s prime minister has again slammed Europeans for ignoring the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK) activities in their territories, calling on German officials to cooperate more in the anti-terror fight and help Turkey join the European Union.

“We are totally unable to understand the tolerance shown to the activities of the terror organization in some European countries despite the fact that we have provided them all the necessary and concrete intelligence and documents [about such activities],” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said at a special gathering with the participation of Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the arrival of Turkish workers in Germany.

“Leaving Turkey alone in its fight against a terror organization committing crimes against democracy, peace and humanity hurts the conscience and [destroys] the credibility of European countries,” he said.

The rise in terror attacks in recent months, which have killed dozens of people, including children and a pregnant woman, caused fury among much of Turkish society and government officials. It spurned an incursion into northern Iraq as well as a large diplomatic campaign against mainly European countries that have allegedly remained indifferent to the PKK-affiliated groups in their territories.

In earlier remarks late on Nov. 1, Erdoğan used a harsher tone against those countries without naming them.

“They must see how the tolerance shown to the terrorist organization is turning into bloody attacks in Turkey. The terror organization is not solely responsible for these inhuman attacks. Those who support and provide financial and moral assistance to the terror organization are equally responsible in slaughtering that unborn baby,” the prime minister said.

In her response to Erdoğan, Merkel recalled their policy against terrorism, reiterating that “Germany was always on Turkey’s side in its fight against terror.”

The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the EU.

Turkey’s bid to join the EU

Erdoğan also raised the topic of Turkey’s accession to the EU. “Our expectation and hope from Germany, as a country which we see as very close to us, is to more strongly support our EU [accession] process,” he said.

The current German government, however, has repeatedly opposed full Turkish membership in the 27-nation bloc.

Hinting that Turkey’s accession will make the EU a global player, Erdoğan demanded Merkel take the initiative to make the EU a global actor in the future through adopting visionary policies. “Leaders who fail to think big cannot turn the EU into a global actor.”

In further remarks, Erdoğan described Germany as a country that should back Turkey’s EU bid more strongly than any other member countries because of its close relationship with Turkey.

“This should be a Germany that cooperates with Turkey on Turkey’s international matters ranging from the Cyprus problem to the 1915 incidents [Armenian genocide claims], and from EU negotiations to the fight against terror,” Erdoğan said.

‘Wir sind zusammen’

Apart from criticisms and declarations of expectations on sensitive issues, Erdoğan was generally soft in his messages on the integration process of over 2.5 million Turks into German society.

“I openly say: Germany is no longer a bitter homeland for Turkey and Turks are no longer immigrant workers for Germany. We are two nations that made history come closer to each other. We are together. Or, ‘Wir sind zusammen,’” he said.

Recalling that some nationalistic groups launched campaigns under the slogan of “Turken Raus” or “Turks out,” Erdoğan said Turks who helped in the reconstruction and development of West Germany after World War II did not deserve such treatment. “We are in agreement with Germany on the fact that assimilation is also a crime against humanity like racism and discrimination are.”

Erdoğan also jokingly touched on the German national football team’s star midfielder, Mesut Özil, who is of Turkish descent. The prime minister said Mesut’s goals for Germany made all of Turkey very happy – provided he did not score them against Turkey.