Why was Erdogan’s visit to Europe postponed?
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's trip to Berlin, the capital of Germany, which had been planned for this week and during which he would also have met with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, has been cancelled. Aside from his attendance at certain summits, Erdogan has not made trips to Europe for a long time. Erdogan's plans to break this trend through a visit to Germany at the end of January had been reflected in diplomatic sources, and the program of the visit had even been published in the German state publication DW Turkish.
However, this trip had to be postponed. Why?
WORRIES OVER CAMPAIGNING
According to the information obtained by Arti Gercek, Erdogan's request to go to Berlin at the end of January was conveyed to the German authorities in the middle of the month. In this regard, Scholz's Foreign Policy Advisor Jens Plotner and Presidential Spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin began to discuss the dates and agenda of the visit.
Before his visit to Germany, Erdogan had been planning to visit Ukraine's neighbor Poland, and to go to Berlin from there. Meeting with Scholz was the primary agenda item. However, the German government found Erdogan's visit date "significant" as Turkey entered the election period.
ANXIETIES THAT “A RALLY MIGHT BE HELD AT THE EMBASSY”
Reports stated that the biggest cause of concern for the German authorities was the possibility that Erdogan would turn this trip into an election rally. Election work in Germany is subject to the permission of the competent authorities. In other words, German authorities can prevent Erdogan from holding a rally in the country.
But Berlin thinks there is a loophole that can overcome this, as there is nothing that prevents such an event from being held in the Turkish Embassy in Germany. Since the Embassy is considered Turkish territory, it is not possible for the authorities to impose restrictions on activities there. Therefore, it is stated that a cautious approach has been taken against the possibility of such a situation.
ACIKGOZ’S WORDS ALSO HAD AN IMPACT
Another reason for Germany's discomfort with the pre-election visit is AKP Nevsehir Deputy Mustafa Acikgoz's statements threatening immigrants living in Germany and the anxiety it creates.
Acikgoz’s remarks in his speech in the German city of Neuss had caused strong reactions in Germany: "We will not give them a right to life in Germany, just as we do not give them a right to life in Turkey. We will end the terrorist organization called the PKK, the terrorist organization called FETO, no matter where in the world they flee."
After this threat to the people living in Germany, Turkey's Ambassador to Berlin was summoned to the German Federal Foreign Office. In the meeting there, it was conveyed to Turkey's Ambassador to Germany that "election work in the territory of Germany can only take place if the relevant authorities have given permission." In addition to this effort by the Foreign Ministry, the government had also made the statement, "We do not allow exile-hunting.”
“CREATING A FOUNDATION FOR THE FAR RIGHT'S ANTI-IMMIGRANT DISCOURSE”
A German official who shared his views on the subject on condition of anonymity made the following assessment:
"There are many minorities, such as Turks and Kurds, who have received citizenship in Germany. The safety of these people is entrusted to the German authorities. As seen in Germany's 2021 election, the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) Party has been on the rise, especially in the eastern states. This party has an anti-Islam and anti-immigrant platform. While this situation is worrying enough on its own, a Deputy's threats against the people living here turn it into an opportunity to be used by the far-right. After such statements, the far-right can argue that the safety of German citizens is in danger and that immigrants should be sent back."