Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan damned Germany’s major political parties as “enemies of Turkey” and urged Turks living in Germany not to vote for any of them in remarks on Friday.
The New York Times succinctly describes the current state of German-Turkish relations:
Turkey accuses Germany of providing a safe haven to Kurdish militants and suspects wanted for alleged links to last year’s failed coup, while Germany protests the arrest of several of its citizens in Turkey since the coup.
German citizens imprisoned in Turkey include “German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yucel who was detained in February on suspicion of aiding forbidden groups, and German human rights campaigner Peter Steudtner, detained among other activists for allegedly aiding an unspecified armed terrorist group.”
The BBC notes that Erdogan is still furious at the German government for refusing to allow his officials to campaign among the German Turkish community during the April referendum that increased Erdogan’s powers as president. The dispute assumed decidedly nasty proportions when Erdogan and some other Turkish officials began comparing the modern German government to Nazi Germany.
Turkey just filed another extradition request for a coup suspect with Berlin on Wednesday, but Erdogan does not seem interested in sweet-talking German Chancellor Angela Merkel into giving him what he wants.
At a press conference in Istanbul on Friday, he insisted Turkey “bears no responsibility” for tensions with Germany, putting the blame squarely on Merkel’s Christian Democrats and two other mainstream political parties.
“Neither the Christian Democrats nor the SPD nor the Greens. they are all enemies of Turkey,” Erdogan declared. “I think it is necessary for them to teach a lesson at the ballot box to these political parties who have attacked and disrespected Turkey.”
Addressing the approximately 1 million Turks eligible to vote in Germany, he said, “I am urging all my countrymen in Germany to not make the mistake of supporting them.”
Merkel fired back from a campaign event in Herford, Germany, accusing Erdogan of “meddling” in her country’s election.
“We will not stand for any kind of interference,” she said in a stern rebuke to the Turkish president.
Merkel’s Foreign Minister, Sigmar Gabriel, added that Erdogan’s remarks were “an unprecedented act of interference in the sovereignty of our country.”
“Show those who want to play us against each other that we will not participate in this evil game,” Gabriel urged voters.
The German elections will be held on September 24. Merkel is running for her fourth term as chancellor. Merkel’s CDU is currently favored to win, with the SPD – also denounced by Erdogan – running in second place.