Erdoğan's interference in German elections

Turkish President Erdoğan has called on Turks resident in Germany not to vote in the German elections for the "enemies of Turkey" - the CDU, the SPD and the Greens. Federal Foreign Minister Gabriel then challenged this "invasion of German sovereignty". Commentators debate the background to this exchange of blows.

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Daily Sabah (TR) /

Merkel sows dissent

The German government's hostile attitude to Muslims and Turks could have disastrous consequences, Daily Sabah warns:

“Mrs. Merkel, who lays claim to the leadership of the free world in the face of Mr. Trump's populism, could be following in his footsteps without even knowing it. Clearly, she hasn't been promoting populism and xenophobia openly. But Mrs. Merkel, Mr. Gabriel and others have been planting the seeds of anger among Germans against Muslims and Turks by fueling anti-Erdoğanism. For the sake of teaching Mr. Erdoğan a lesson, she has been creating an environment of which white supremacists - or, to call them what they really are, neo-Nazis - among her people could take advantage.”

Polityka (PL) /

Dangerous alienation between EU and Ankara

Turkey expert Karol Wasilewski fears in an interview with Polityka that conflicts with Turkey will only become more exacerbated:

“In the long term the most dangerous aspect of German-Turkish or even Turkish-European relations is not the regular stretches of turbulence, but rather that a process of mutual alienation has been underway for some time now. For example a number of Turkish journalists have pointed out that Erdoğan does not understand that the German government has only a limited influence on the judiciary. This drifting apart of perspectives will probably lead to ever greater tensions in Turkish-European relations.”

Lost in EUrope (BE) /

Imagine if Putin had dared to do this!

Despite Erdoğan's latest provocations neither Berlin nor Brussels will change their course, writes Eric Bonse in his blog Lost in EUrope:

“Because Merkel has given orders to stick to the present course until she has been re-elected and the new government has been formed - until November that is. So Foreign Minister Gabriel is having to act as whipping boy. And EU Commission chief Juncker, who is supposed to safeguard the EU's values, has the task of keeping 'the door open' for Erdoğan, the despiser of those values. With this the EU is discrediting itself. … Imagine if Putin had dared to do such a thing. Inconceivable. The EU sanctions would be tightened immediately, the politicians and media would turn the Cold War against Russia into a complete freeze of relations. But unfortunately it wasn't Putin who interfered but Erdoğan. And now the opinion-makers who attacked Russia so fiercely are lost for a response.”

Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

Germany has no reason to complain

Germany is using a double standard in complaining about Turkish intervention, Rzeczpospolita comments:

“Berlin's reaction is hysterical. The SPD leadership, known for its direct statements about domestic matters in other countries, has now spoken of an 'unprecedented violation of sovereignty'. Angela Merkel has also said that she will refuse to tolerate any interference, even though in 2015 she travelled to Ankara two weeks before the parliamentary elections to show her support for Erdoğan's party. It's tempting to joke that he who lives by the sword dies by the sword.”

Sabah (TR) /

German Turks will stand by Erdoğan

The patriotism of Turks in Germany could well decide which candidate they vote for, Sabah observes:

“In a bid to calm the tensions, some analysts are saying Erdoğan's call won't have any effect because Germans of Turkish origin are more likely to vote for the Greens and the left-wing parties. But they are overlooking the fact that they do this because these parties campaign for minorities and for their rights. Their voting behaviour will undoubtedly change in view of the hostile stance [toward the Turkish government] of certain leading politicians like [Green Party leader] Cem Özdemir. Even if they vote for leftist parties in Germany, a majority of the Turks are and will remain patriotic and claim to be on Turkey's side.”