Turkey asks for explanation from Germany over ‘Islamist platform’ claims
Emine Kart - ANKARA
REUTERS photoAnkara has swiftly and harshly slammed claims reported by Germany's ARD public broadcaster that Turkey has become “the central platform of action for Islamist groups” in the Middle East, as Berlin bids to cool down the spat following Turkey's angry response.
The statement, first reported by ARD public television, was contained in a classified section of a reply from the Interior Ministry to questions from an opposition party.
The claims in question are “a new indication of the distorted mindset which has been attempting to weaken our country by means of [attacking] our president and our government,” said the Turkish Foreign Ministry in a written statement released on Aug. 17.
“The required explanation about the report, to which was referred in the ARD news report, is being sought for from FRG [the Federal Republic of Germany] authorities,” the Foreign Ministry said.
“It is obvious that, behind these claims, there are some political circles in Germany whose double-standard manners in the fight against terror, including the bloody actions of the PKK [outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party] terror organization, which continues to target Turkey,” read the statement.
“As a country, which sincerely fights against all kinds of terror no matter what their roots are, Turkey expects from its other partners and allies too to act in the same way,” the ministry statement said.
In the confidential document by the German government and reported by ARD, the Interior Ministry of Germany said “numerous statements of solidarity and supportive actions” for Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and “groups in the armed Islamist opposition in Syria” by Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan “underline their ideological affinity with the Muslim Brothers.”
The Aug. 10 document added that “as a result of Ankara’s domestic and foreign policy that has been Islamized step-by-step above all since 2011, Turkey has developed into the central platform of action for Islamist groups in the Middle East region.”
Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, is shunned as a terrorist group by the European Union and the U.S.
Germany’s Interior Ministry issued a statement saying the document is “classified as confidential, therefore we cannot comment publicly on the content.”
It added that because of a “clerical error,” the Foreign Ministry was not involved in the final draft of the answer to the Left Party, which had asked whether “the Muslim Brothers gained influence” after the AKP under Erdoğan, who was previously prime minister, was elected to his current post in August 2014.
Interior Ministry spokesman Johannes Dimroth said the report was signed by a deputy minister, with neither Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere nor the Foreign Ministry involved.
“We are deeply convinced that Turkey is the most important partner in the fight against the so-called Islamic State group,” Dimroth said.
“Where people work, mistakes can happen,” he added, saying a mistake was made in the transmitting of the classified written response to a lawmaker without first consulting the Foreign Ministry.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Sawsan Chebli also refused to confirm the contents of the document
“On what has been published in the media, we do not share the assessment as a whole,” Chebli said.
German government spokesman Steffen Seibert declined to comment on the report, but also stressed that Berlin continued to view Ankara as a key partner in the fight against ISIL.
Relations between Germany and Turkey have been frayed since the German parliament voted June 2 to label the killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks a century ago as genocide.
The Turkish government has also bristled at criticism of the scope of its crackdown following the aborted July 15 coup and has complained of a lack of support from the West.