Turkish foreign minister calls European leaders to self-criticism on racism
BERLIN - Hürriyet Daily News
Police officers guard the entarence of the Turkish embassy in Berlin. AFP photo“European leaders need self-criticism on racism,” Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has said.
His remarks came after a meeting with families of Turkish immigrants killed in Germany between 2000 and 2007 by a neo-Nazi cell that called itself the National Socialist Underground (NSU).
“What upset us is that the German government long failed to realize that the racist gang came from German society and instead considered the Turks a potential risk,” the minister told reporters late May 11 at the Turkish Embassy in Berlin.
He criticized 38-year-old Beate Zschaepe, a suspect from the NSU, for chewing gum at the trial, a behavior which the minister said was a sign of this racist approach. Zschaepe denies the charge of complicity in the murders of eight ethnic Turks, a Greek immigrant and a German policewoman.
However he praised victims’ families for their “dignified” and “self-confident” stand during May 6’s trial despite what they have suffered over the past decade.
Davutoğlu called on the Turkish community in Germany to “stand tall and be united.”
At a closed-door meeting with families, the minister vowed that Turkey would stand behind the families and keep a close eye on the court case, according to Turkish diplomats.
One of the victims’ families said the murders were an “apparent sign of racism in Germany,” adding that the minister had assured them that Ankara would stand by them.
Davutoğlu also told families that a killing spree of NSU “a racist attack that should not go unpunished.” He said that while not all Germans could be held responsible for the murders, questions still remained to be answered.
The discovery in 2011 of the gang has shocked Germany while embarrassed authorities, exposing deep security flaws and raising uncomfortable questions about how the cell went undetected for so long in a country proud of owning up to its Nazi past.
Earlier on May 11, Davutoğlu called on the Turkish community in Germany to “stand tall,” stressing that “Turks are essential and indispensable elements of this society,” while visiting the southeastern Berlin district of Kreuzberg, home to a sizeable Turkish population. The minister also called on the Turkish community in Germany - the largest outside Turkey roughly three million strong - to protect their cultural identity but added they must make an effort to integrate into German society. Turks in Germany should not be inward-looking, nor should they become stuck “in ghettos” but instead should be “self-confident and open up to the whole of Europe,” said the minister. “Everyone should know that integration and assimilation are two different things. Nobody can assimilate us under any circumstances,” stressed Davutoğlu.
Additional AFP story from Berlin was used in this story.