Erdoğan’s Germany visit on unclear terms upon Israel criticism

Various German politicians expressed their reservations about Erdoğan’s expected mid-November visit to Germany following his comments criticizing Israeli attacks on civilians and defining Hamas as “not terrorists,” but “liberation fighters.”

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German politicians from various camps have criticized President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s comments about the Israeli-Palestine conflict. German politicians expressed reservations about Erdoğan’s expected mid-November Germany visit, according to reporting by Deutsche Welle Turkish. 

Bijan Djir Sarai, the secretary general of the ruling coalition member the Free Democratic Party (FDP), stated “Erdoğan’s hate speech against Israel and his solidarity with terror organization Hamas is intolerable,” to German news agency dpa. 

Sarai also claimed that Erdoğan’s visit would be “very problematic” under these conditions, and said, “We should question welcoming Erdoğan in Berlin.” 

On the other hand, head of Bundestag’s Security Commission Marie Agnes Strack-Zimmerman, also of the FDP, disagreed. 

Strack-Zimmermann has stated, “Erdoğan’s statements calling people to a religious war as if we are living in the Middle Ages are horrible. However, it is important that we remain in dialogue.”

She expressed doubt about the timing of the visit, and added, “We should sit at the same table, but also be wary of the right timing. In this period, such a visit is difficult.”

Social Democrat Party (SDP) deputy Macit Karaahmetoğlu blamed Erdoğan for “relativizing” terror attacks against civilians. He expressed his confidence in Prime Minister Scholtz to take a clear stand against “Erdoğan’s attempts to paint Hamas attacks as harmless.”

European Parliament member of the Green Party Sergey Logadinsky said, “German Prime Minister Scholz and other Western leaders should do the best they can to show Erdoğan he must stop anti-semitic and anti-Israel propaganda.”

Josef Schuster, the head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, condemned Erdoğan’s statements and called them “extremely worrisome” in an interview with the DW Turkish. 

“The political repercussions of his statements for Germany must be conveyed to him in very clear terms,” he said.   

Since the beginning of the clashes between Hamas and Israel, Berlin has welcomed the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamed Al Thani, and the King of Jordan, Abdullah II. The political office of Hamas is located in Qatar. Jordan, on the other hand, has been in various political and diplomatic crises with Israel over the years. The visit of these two leaders did not cause as much controversy in Germany as that of Turkish President Erdoğan.

Political scientist Dr. Salim Çevik, a researcher at the German Foundation for Political Science and Politics (SWP), attributed this to Erdoğan’s outspoken and clear pro-Palestine stance.

Çevik stated that Germany is hesitant about Erdoğan's visit because they expect him to criticize Germany for being hypocritical about international law, human rights, and democracy. 

“Germany’s claim to moral and discursive superiority has taken a big hit, considering the open support shown to the bombing by Israel and the political climate that criminalizes different stances,” Çevik added.

Turkish President Erdoğan on Oct. 25 stated, “The entire West sees Hamas as a terrorist organization. The West owes Israel a lot, but Turkey does not owe (them) anything. Hamas is not a terrorist organization, but a liberation and mujahideen group that struggles to protect its land.”

“We have no problem with the state of Israel. But we do not approve of Israel's atrocities and its style of acting as a (terrorist) organization rather than a state,” he said.