President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan visited Berlin on Friday. Going to the German capital at the invitation of that country’s government, his meeting with President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Chancellor Olaf Scholz related to bilateral economic relations, visa liberalization, irregular migration, the readmission agreement, NATO, relations with the European Union and major developments in the Middle East.
Two major developments took place at the Turkish Parliament the day before Erdoğan’s trip: the Foreign Affairs Commission postponed its debate on Sweden’s admission to NATO as the National Defense Minister Yașar Güler informed the Planning and Budget Commission that Türkiye was planning to buy 40 Eurofighter Typhoon warplanes. Specifically, the minister said that a deal had been reached with the United Kingdom and Spain, adding that those countries were trying to persuade Germany.
Yet, the Turkish president ended up visiting the German capital at a time when the two countries significantly disagreed on Israel’s massacre in Gaza. Some observers even called it “sensitive” and “brinksmanship” as a handful of German media outlets urged the government to postpone Erdoğan’s visit, or at least not hold a joint press conference nor take questions from reporters. Obviously, all those recommendations suggested that Ankara was gaining ground.
Erdoğan’s criticism of Israel
Expressing their frustration with the Turkish government’s policy toward Gaza and Hamas as well as the Turkish president’s criticism of Israel, German newspapers were nonetheless compelled to acknowledge that Ankara was a “difficult yet indispensable partner” for Berlin. After all, the Ukraine war and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict forced the two governments to leave aside their differences and work together.
Whereas President Erdoğan was just reelected for another five-year term, Germany’s fragile coalition government will expire within two years. Suffering major setbacks against the far right according to the latest polls, Chancellor Scholz could find it increasingly difficult to manage his domestic audience.
It is against that backdrop that Ankara and Berlin seek to take positive steps regarding bilateral trade – which is due to exceed 50 billion euros ($54.6 billion) at the end of this year – as well as investments, migration, visa liberalization and updating the EU-Türkiye Customs Union.
Other items on Erdoğan’s agenda included military matters, Russia, Ukraine and the Palestinian question.
Ahead of last week’s visit, the German media took it upon themselves to cause a crisis by targeting the Turkish leader with strongly worded remarks. In his meetings with Steinmeier and Scholz, Erdoğan said that it was necessary to stop Israel’s attacks against the Palestinians and highlighted the importance of the two-state solution.
Indeed, the German chancellor thanked his guest for Türkiye’s constructive role in the grain deal. Erdoğan thanked Steinmeier and Scholz for their hospitality before taking the liberty of criticizing the West and Germany’s stance toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: “It is necessary to not view the war between Israel and Palestine with a mindset of guilt. We do not owe a debt to Israel. Yet those who are indebted cannot speak freely.”
Repeating his past criticism of Israel in Berlin, the Turkish president noted that 13,000 Palestinians had lost their lives and Gaza had almost ceased to exist. Recalling Israel’s access to nuclear weapons, he insisted that targeting houses of worship, churches and hospitals and killing children represented a violation of the Torah and human rights. Erdoğan also stressed that his country, unlike the West, did not owe a debt to Israel over the Holocaust before offering to work together with German statesmen toward a cease-fire, humanitarian aid and freeing the hostages.
Finally, responding to a German reporter, the Turkish president asked why they weren’t bothered by Israel killing thousands of Palestinians or targeting hospitals and houses of worship. Erdoğan also stated that Türkiye won’t be threatened with the sale of Eurofighter Typhoon warplanes.
In this article
- 7 October 2023 Israel's Attack on Gaza with Disproportionate Force
- Cease-fire | Ceasefire
- Eurofighter Typhoon Multirole fighter aircraft
- Israel-Palestine Conflict
- Israeli War Crimes
- Israeli–Palestinian Conflict
- Leaders' Diplomacy
- Middle East
- Olaf Scholz
- Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
- The Palestine File
- Turkish President
- Turkish-German Relations
- Türkiye-Germany Relations
- War Crime