Spokesman says Schröder met Erdoğan ‘but not on release of activists’
Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder spoke to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkish Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın confirmed on Nov. 1, while ruling out that the conversation aimed for the release of an arrested German human rights activist.
“Some reports included allegations [about Schröder’s mediation for the release of Peter Steudner] were published in the media. But none of these reports is confirmed by us. It is true there was a meeting, but saying the releases came as a result of this meeting or drawing a close correlation between them is not right,” Kalın said.
“Mr. Schröder is a close friend of our president, who worked with the former chancellor closely when he was prime minister. They meet from time to time, having conversations on politics and relations between Turkey, Europe and Germany,” he added.
His comments came after German media outlets reported that Shröder had spoken to Erdoğan as a mediator in favor of the release of German activist Steudner who had been in jail over terror charges in the case where 10 other human rights activists were also in pre-trial detention in jail.
After the activists were released late on Oct. 26, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel thanked the Turkish government for “keeping its promises.”
He later added that it was he who asked Schröder to make use of his access to Erdoğan.
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said on private broadcaster CNN Turk that if the mediation reports were true it would be “proof that the judiciary is under political influence.”
However, Justice Minister Abdullah Gül denied the reports on Oct. 27, saying “there was no bargaining between Turkey and Germany on the release of the activists.”
“The release was the result of an independent court ruling,” Gül said.
A number of other AKP officials also ruled out any mediation between Shröder and Erdoğan.
“It would be a mistake to regard this meeting as a pre-negotiation or a preparation of that release. It is a judicial process and it would not be right to relate it to this [meeting]. It is the judiciary that takes decisions,” said Presidential spokesperson Kalın.