Turkey, Germany ‘differ on views on terrorism’

Turkey, Germany ‘differ on views on terrorism’

Hande Fırat - BERLIN
Turkey, Germany ‘differ on views on terrorism’

Germany and Turkey can overcome a period of ups and downs in bilateral relations during the term in 2019. Both countries will take steps for boosting relations, however, Ankara and Berlin are still having differences on the understanding of terror concepts, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said. 

“They are always grateful for what we have done about Syria, especially on the issue of Idlib. We will continue to take steps by strengthening our cooperation with the EU and other regions,” Erdoğan told a group of journalists while on his way from Germany to Turkey.

One of the problematic areas with Germany is they do not act “sensitive enough” on the issue of “anti-Turkey acts of organizations such as the [illegal] PKK, FETÖ, DHKPC,” the president said.

“We expect German authorities to fight against them more effectively. An effective struggle against the structures that pose a threat to our national security is our fundamental right,” he said.

“We have expressed it would be better to ask us about real information” regarding those people, said Erdoğan, elaborating on the issue of German concerns regarding their citizens detained in Turkey.

“We told them it would be better to listen to official authorities about the issues and take steps accordingly rather than listening to anti-cabinet or anti-president circles in Turkey,” he said.

“We told them one cannot get accurate results if they walk with anti-government” circles, the president added.

He stressed that there is an obvious difference in the two countries’ approach regarding the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ).

“They are talking about the lack of evidence on FETÖ. It is not possible to understand ignoring the evidence we submitted to them, including the court rulings,” said Erdoğan.

Turkey has asked Germany to extradite a list of 136-people, Erdoğan said, recalling that Ankara had previously sent a list of about more than 4,000 illegal PKK members. He recalled Turkey sent the United States 85 packages of documents for its request of FETÖ members. Later on, U.S. President Donald Trump asked Ankara to send names of individuals instead and Turkey conveyed a list of more than 20 people, according to Erdoğan.

“The upcoming period will show us what will happen. However, their understanding of terror is different than ours. They have a difficulty in understanding us because they do not have the problems we have,” he said.

It was a successful visit

Erdoğan noted that his delegation visited Germany with a positive agenda and said he was satisfied with Germany’s hospitality on many terms, including security and state protocol. “It was a good and successful visit,” he said and welcomed both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

“I can say we were able to agree on further developing our economic relations. The German minister for economy will come to our country on Oct. 25 accompanied with a big delegation of businesspeople,” said the Turkish president.

Discrimination and Islamophobia remain a major problem in Germany, he said, recalling the huge Turkish community living there. Erdoğan expressed his concern on attacks on mosques and Islamic associations.

“This situation contradicts with the European values,” he said, underlining that one should not fall on deaf ears regarding this problem.

He recalled that nearly 10,000 Turks could not attend at the president address in Cologne though they came the mosque opening because the German authorities did not allow them due to security reasons.

“As a result, Germany is an important country for us. Of course we have problems. I cannot say we have been able to overcome them entirely. But I think we caught an important chance to overcome problems,” he said, adding that mutual visits of ministers will increase between the two capitals, including an invitation issued for the German chancellor and president to visit Turkey.

Meanwhile, Erdoğan criticized the German president’s “attitude” during the dinner and said his behavior “was not smart.” It was unnecessary to bring the issues back up at the dinner, which had already been discussed at previous meetings throughout the day.

“Even the Germans were uncomfortable with that. Some circles had said ‘Steinmeier was wrong. Erdoğan gave the right reaction,’” he said. In Turkish culture, if one invites someone for dinner, no one would treat the guest this way, the president said, adding that his move was aimed at the German media for internal political concerns.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier raised human rights issues in Turkey during a state dinner with Erdoğan. “Eighty years ago, Germans found refuge in Turkey—today, a worryingly large number of people from Turkey are seeking refuge here in Germany from the growing pressure on civil society,” Steinmeier said before Erdoğan. In his speech, Erdoğan told Steinmeier among other things that he seemed to have “received false information” regarding the arrests that have taken place in Turkey. “Thousands of members of the PKK, which is recognized as a terror group by the EU, walk freely in Germany,” Erdoğan said.

Germans were “avoiding a room meeting” but on the other hand, they are “seeking rights of” Can Dündar, he said, noting that the journalist was sentenced for 5-10 years in Turkey. Recalling the bilateral extradition agreement, Germany should return Dündar to Turkey, he added. He told German counterparts that the detained German citizens in Turkey are accused of some crimes, they are on trial as Turkish nationals, and Turkey is a state of law, the president said.

Germans appreciate what Turkey has been doing in Syria and a four-way summit with France, Germany, Turkey and Russia will be held after elections in Germany on Oct. 13, he said.

He recalled Trump organized a “small group” about Syria composed of the U.S., Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Germany, and France, isolating Turkey. “They do not even invite Syria. I told Merkel that ‘ours is small too,’” he said.

“Globally, I see that the unilateral policies of the Trump administration have also caused discomfort in Europe. We will continue to take steps by strengthening our cooperation with the EU and other regions,” said Erdoğan.