Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has asked to hold a political rally in Germany next week on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel confirmed on Thursday, describing the proposal as “not a good idea.”
Given tensions between Germany and Turkey “the political climate” is not ripe for Erdogan to hold a political rally addressing Turks, Gabriel said during a visit with his Russian counterpart.
“The federal government is of the same opinion on this topic,” Gabriel said, hinting that Chancellor Angela Merkel is in agreement.
Erdogan will attend the G20 summit in Hamburg next week, his first visit to Germany since he and several of his ministers accused Germany and other European countries of “Nazi-like” practices for blocking campaigning for a constitutional referendum that granted him sweeping presidential powers in April.
The Turkish president’s request to hold a rally comes as he has repeatedly floated the idea of reintroducing the death penalty during speeches at home.
Germany and other European countries have said they would not let the Turkish government hold rallies that promote the return of the death penalty, which if re-implemented would officially end the country’s morbid EU membership bid.
German officials have repeatedly said they do not want internal conflicts in Turkey spilling onto German soil, where some three million people of Turkish origin live. Already, security circles have warned of potential clashes between pro-Erdogan supporters and Kurdish nationalists around the G20 summit.
Blow after blow
German-Turkish relations have gone from bad to worse over the past year, making the issue a political football ahead of national elections in Germany in September.
Earlier, the leader of Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD), Martin Schulz, told German daily “Bild” any Erdogan rally should be banned over concerns about the authoritarian nature of his government.
“Foreign politicians who trample on our values when at home must not be allowed a stage for speeches in Germany,” said Schulz, whose SPD is trailing behind Merkel’s CDU in the polls. “I don’t want Mr Erdogan, who jails opposition politicians and journalists in Turkey, to hold big rallies in Germany.”
In another row, Germany decided to pull troops participating in the US-led anti-“Islamic State” mission from an airbase in southern Turkey after Ankara refused permission for German lawmakers to visit soldiers.
Adding to tensions, Germany granted asylum to military officers and other diplomatic passport holders who Ankara accuses of being involved in last July’s failed coup attempt.
Relations have also been hit by the deterioration of democracy and human rights in Turkey as well as the continued arrest of two German-Turkish journalists on trumped up “terrorism” charges.
cw/rg (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)