Speaking from the balcony of the Turkish consul’s residence in Hamburg on Tuesday night, he condemned Germany for repeatedly blocking speeches from Turkish ministers ahead of a referendum aimed at strengthening the constitutional powers of President Tayyip Erdogan.
Bundestag MP Niels Annen, a member of the foreign affairs committee, told Deutsche Welle that Erdogan’s tactics – seeking to pick a verbal fight with Germany – were an attempt to “appear strong [at home], when he’s actually weak.” Polls do suggest that Erdogan’s AKP might struggle to push through its desired reforms, or at least that the vote could prove close.
Erdogan’s supporters are looking for strong support from an estimated 1.5 million Turkish voters in Germany and from Turks in other European countries to ensure victory at the referendum.
Cavusoglu criticized German police and authorities for working to cancel Turkish speeches, saying that “Germany maintains a systematic antagonism against Turkey.”
Cavusoglu said Germany should stop lecturing Turkey on human rights and democracy, claiming that Europe was being hypocritical, given its serious problem with racism, anti-Semitism, anti-Christianity and crimes against humanity.
Cavusoglu accused Germany of interference saying “We do not interfere with the domestic policy of a friendly country.” Foreign Minister at the residence of the Turkish Consulate General in the northern German city of Hamburg.
As three of the foreign minister’s previous meetings had been cancelled or relocated, Çavuşoğlu stated that Germany hinders Turkish officials’ scheduled meetings by closing premises as a way to exert pressure on Turkish citizens.
Çavuşoğlu said that Turkey has always considered Germany a friendly nation, but underlined that the country’s anti-Turkey sentiment and the pressure it has exerted on Turkish citizens were not reflecting this relationship.
“Preventions cannot keep us apart,” Çavuşoğlu told the audience as he called on Germany to change its attitude.
The foreign minister also reminded that Turkey took it as a principle not to interfere in another country’s domestic policy, stating that any politician from Germany could come to Turkey to meet with German citizens, as this would be the necessity of democracy.
The foreign minister also raised concerns about growing racism in Europe and added that he would meet with his German counterpart Sigmar Gabriel on Wednesday to discuss this matter.
German local authorities have been cancelling the public appearances of Turkish ministers and government officials campaigning ahead of the April 16 referendum in several German towns and cities, citing the inadequacy of parking lots and security concerns.
Since the beginning of 2017, Germany has adopted a harsher and more hostile stance in its Turkey policy, which has been decried on several occasions by Turkish officials and political leaders who have also warned German authorities that their decisions may have a dramatic impact on bilateral ties.
Earlier this year, Germany accused Turkish imams serving in Germany of espionage, hosted events and rallies organized by the PKK — an armed group that both Ankara and Berlin consider a terrorist organization– and alienated Turkish officials when Chancellor Angela Merkel used the phrase “Islamist terrorism” during a press conference with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in attendance on February 2.
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