Three-day state visit: Turkish President Erdogan comes to Berlin for difficult talks

Three-day state visit

Turkish President Erdogan comes to Berlin for difficult talks

Archive photo: Recep Tayyip Erdogan giving a speech.  (Source: dpa/M. Kula)
Bild: dpa/M. kula

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is traveling to Berlin and Cologne on Thursday for three days. Some of the upcoming meetings will be about explosive topics, including because he has described Israel as a “terrorist state”.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan comes to Berlin for political talks. As deputy government spokeswoman Christiane Hoffmann announced, a meeting with Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier is initially planned for Friday. Afterwards there will be a joint dinner with Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) in the Federal Chancellery. The conversation was about “the entire range of political topics,” said Hoffmann.

Scholz wants to clearly address differences

The visit is considered sensitive, especially because of Erdogan’s stance on the Gaza war. After the terrorist attack on Israel that left more than 1,400 dead, Erdogan described the Islamist Hamas as a “liberation organization.” The USA and the EU, which are allies of Turkey in NATO, classify it as a terrorist organization.

On Wednesday, Erdogan doubled down and called Israel a “terrorist state” that was pursuing a “strategy of destruction” against the city of Gaza and its people. Scholz announced that he would clearly address differences in connection with the Gaza war in his conversation with Erdogan. He had previously described the Turkish president’s allegations as “absurd”.

Erdogan wants a “warm atmosphere”

“The most important goal of my visit to Germany is to completely put the phase in our relationship of the last few years behind us,” Erdogan told the Reuters news agency on Sunday. He wanted to create a “warm atmosphere” with Berlin.

The security authorities are preparing for a state guest with the highest security level 1. According to the police, individual rallies and demonstrations with few participants have been registered in Berlin for Thursday and Friday around Erdogan’s visit. There may be short-term closures in and around the government district during the visit, the police said. Further details are not yet known.

Last visit to Germany three years ago

Erdogan last visited Germany in 2020 when he took part in then-Chancellor Angela Merkel’s (CDU) Libya conference. Chancellor Scholz invited the Turkish head of state to Germany after his re-election as president in May of this year. The Chancellor traveled to Turkey for an inaugural visit in March 2022. Erdogan traveled to Germany more than a dozen times as prime minister and twice as head of state.

Criticism from German politicians

Even before Erdogan’s visit to Germany, there were protests in several German cities last weekend because of Erdogan’s treatment of government critics. Numerous journalists, scientists and other opposition figures remain in prison for political reasons.

Erdogan’s current visit is viewed critically in German politics. “Erdogan must not be a normal state guest for Germany,” said Left Party leader Martin Schirdewan. SPD leader Lars Klingbeil defended the visit, but was nevertheless critical: “There are many statements made by Erdogan in the last few days that I condemn in the strongest possible terms.” The Green Party leader Ricarda Lang also expressed herself clearly: “I expect very clear words from Olaf Scholz and also from the Federal President regarding these obnoxious omissions from Erdogan.”

Visiting an international football match?

At the same time as Erdogan’s visit, an international match between Germany and Turkey will take place in Berlin on Saturday, November 18th. The German Football Association (DFB) does not expect the Turkish president to visit.

“We don’t know at the moment what Mr. Erdogan will decide. Whether he will come to the stadium or not. That is beyond our knowledge,” the DFB said on Tuesday. “We have no indication that the Turkish president will come.” Government spokeswoman Hoffmann said Chancellor Scholz would also not be at the Olympic Stadium for the game.

The visit to the sold-out Olympic Stadium with tens of thousands of Turkish fans would have made Erdogan’s already controversial visit even more difficult in terms of security.

Watch now on YouTube: Erdogan’s long arm in Berlin

Broadcast: rbb24 Abendschau, November 16, 2023, 7:30 p.m

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