Turkey, Germany have special bonds: SPD nominee for German chancellor
AHMET KÜLAHÇI - BERLIN
Turkey and Germany have special relations due to the millions of Turks who immigrated 60 years ago, German social democrat politician Olaf Scholz told daily Hürriyet in an interview days before the Bundestag elections that will end the 16-year rule of Christian Democrat Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“There is a special bond between Germany and Turkey. People connect to us,” Scholz said, referring to the Turks living and working in Germany since the 1960s after Turkey and Germany signed a labor recruitment agreement.
“Germany became a country of immigration with this agreement. By offering families a business perspective, Germany has become a country of hope where people find happiness and their children can go to school. This is a great prosperity for Germany,” he suggested.
Scholz will run as the SPD’s candidate for German chancellor and public opinion researches indicate he is very close to winning the polls on Sept. 26. On a question why Turks eligible to vote in Germany should prefer the SPD, the social democrat candidate stressed that his party promises to establish more respect and unity within the German society.
“Because the SPD is the only party that can fulfill the duties ahead and fight for a better future in unity and respect. Nobody should look down on anyone else,” he stressed.
Scholz maintained that the integration of Turkish immigrants went well in general thanks to the education system of Germany, but said, “I support that the education system should be ameliorated. In some cities, half of the parents and grandparents of primary school students are not of German descent. This is our reality. We should act accordingly.”
Expressing his hope that those whose parents emigrated from Germany feel they are the citizens of Germany, Scholz said, “You belong to us. You are one of us. I am optimist that it will happen this way.”
On a question about Özlem Türeci and Uğur Şahin, who developed an mRNA vaccine against the coronavirus, the politician described them as “magnificent persons.” “The world is grateful to them. But as you mentioned the pandemic, let me use this opportunity to say: Get vaccinated!”
‘I will work for good ties with Turkey’
The social democrat leader has vowed to closely work with Turkey if he comes to power. Citing Gerhard Schröder who ruled Germany between 1998 and 2005, as his friend who gave special importance to ties with Turkey, Scholz highlighted that Turkey and Germany are in close cooperation.
Schröder had supported Turkey’s bid to join the EU during his tenure and contributed to the official launch of full membership talks with it in October 2005.
“Lastly, Turkish troops fulfilled an important duty in protecting the Kabul airport during the evacuations from Afghanistan. It’s important that we cooperate in the protection of those who try to find shelters in the neighboring countries after fleeing this country. I welcome that we work together [with Turkey],” he said.
“We should exert efforts for good relationship with Turkey. Of course, the rule of law, democracy and freedoms play an important role. We should think and discuss these issues.”
Citing that former SPD governments did their best for Turkish-German ties, Scholz said, “As the chancellor, I want to continue to exert efforts to this end.”