Some 45 pct of Germans oppose President Erdoğan’s visit to Germany

While Turkish President Erdoğan was scheduled to visit Germany on Nov. 17, YouGov reported that 45 percent of the Germans did not want this visit to take place, particularly over his statements against Israel.

Yunus Ülger / Gazete Duvar

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s scheduled visit to Germany on Nov. 17 divided the German population and politicians into two over his statements against Israel’s attacks toward Palestinians and his support to the Islamist militant group Hamas. 

While German politicians from different parties called for the cancellation of Erdoğan's visit at first, they have expressed that it would have been wrong to cancel the visit and that it was necessary to remain in dialogue with Turkey.

"Turkey is a problematic and difficult partner, but indispensable" was how the German press summarized the discourse on the visit.

According to the results of a poll conducted by the YouGov market research company for the German News Agency (dpa), 45 percent of respondents did not want Erdoğan to visit Germany. The rate of those in favor of the visit was 32 percent while the rate of those who did not express an opinion is 25 percent.

The survey was conducted between Nov. 3-7 and 2,123 people throughout Germany took part.

Friedrich Merz, the main opposition Christian Democratic Union Party (CDU) chair, said that Erdoğan's visit had been planned long in advance and that it would be wrong to cancel it now. "It is necessary to speak very openly with Erdoğan. This is now more necessary than ever,” Merz underscored.

Sascha Lehnarz from Die Welt newspaper also stated that the cancellation of the visit would not be beneficial and added, "The world is on fire, let's not start a new one." Lehnarz emphasized that Turkey is a “difficult but indispensable” partner, especially for Ukraine and the Middle East.

The public broadcaster Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg (Rbb24) also pointed to the close economic relations between the two countries, Turkey's role as a bridge to Islamic countries for NATO and the European Union (EU), and its role as a center for managing migration to Europe.

The German daily Bild, which took a strong stance against Erdoğan's visit, expressed its reaction with the headline "What is a man with a grudge against Israel doing in Berlin?" The daily described Erdoğan's visit as "the most difficult visit of the year,” and reported that Erdoğan did not recognize Israel's right to exist. 

The Bild wrote that the Federal Government was hesitant to take a stand against Erdoğan's statements against Hamas and Israel, and quoted journalist Michel Friedman as saying "Erdoğan is one of the biggest instigators not only against the state of Israel but also against the Jews.” 

According to Christiane Hoffmann, press spokesperson for the Federal Government, Erdoğan and Chancellor Olaf Scholz will discuss "a broad package of political issues.” 

These include the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Turkey-EU relations, migration management, and cooperation in NATO. Erdoğan will first meet with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and then with Scholz over dinner. However, both parties have not shared a detailed program for the visit.

Relations between Germany and Turkey have long been tense and not only because of the recent developments. The arrest of German citizens in Turkey and Erdoğan's comparison of former chancellor Angela Merkel to a Nazi were the issues that started the tension between the two countries. 

The de facto suspension of EU talks with Turkey, Turkey's cooperation with Russia and Iran on Syria, and its refusal to join the EU sanctions against Russia have escalated tensions. 

Finally, Erdoğan's description of Hamas as a "liberation a group" and his harsh criticism of Israel added new problems between Germany and Turkey.

This will be Erdoğan's first official visit to Germany in five years.

(English version by Can Bodrumlu)