The Justice and Development Party (AKP) government’s recent tactic to feed its supporters a steady diet of enemies has turned its focus on Germany over the last few weeks.
After Gauck sharply criticised the state of press freedom and freedom of expression in Turkey, Erdoğan responded in reliably pugnacious style, declaring that the Lutheran Gauck “still thinks of himself as a pastor” and “cannot interfere in our country’s internal affairs.”
Equally reliably, the pro-government media has zealously taken up Erdoğan’s cause, gorging itself on anti-German material over the last couple of weeks including moronic, depressingly predictable Nazi analogies. Germany has thus taken its place alongside Jews, Masons, atheists, Britain, the U.S., the “interest rate lobby,” the “parallel state,” and assorted domestic collaborators, in a “dirty alliance” to bring down Erdoğan and his government.
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One of the more thoughtful interventions in this sad state of affairs came in the short interview given to T24 by Cem Özdemir, the Turkish-origin co-leader of Germany’s Green Party, on May 26. Putting aside his questionable sideburns, Özdemir had some eminently reasonable things to say, but PM Erdoğan still found things to object to.
During his typically tub-thumping weekly AKP parliamentary group speech on Tuesday, he slammed Özdemir as a “so-called Turk, a co-head of a political party over there. The words he used before and after our meeting were very ugly. How are you a democrat? … Are you so disturbed by the prime minister of the Turkish Republic going there? You have no right to talk to the prime minister of your country of origin, of which you are a member, in this way. It doesn’t matter where you are an MP, first you will know your place.”
The columnist interviews Özdemir (excerpts):
Q: How do you assess Prime Minister Erdoğan’s speech in Cologne?
A: From now on, no matter what he does, unfortunately we’ve come to the point where it can’t really change anything … The Soma mine disaster and his earlier speeches have formed such a bad picture. From now on, Erdoğan won’t easily be able to change this image. He’s also negatively affecting Turkey’s image….
Q: Isn’t the German public’s reaction to Erdoğan very exaggerated?
Both his supporters and his critics are exaggerating. His supporters completely idolize him, and see him as a completely faultless, flawless person; while a section of his critics are making a big mistake by comparing him to Hitler….
Q: In Erdoğan’s speech, Angela Merkel was booed in the hall.
A: This booing of Merkel’s name leaves a very bad impression. It was very ugly, and it will stay in people’s minds.
We will be the ones to pay the price for this. It gives the message: You’re living here, you’re eating its bread, your taxes are paid here, your children are going to school here, you’re benefiting from the welfare state.
At the same time, you are booing this country’s prime minister and worshipping another country’s prime minister.
It brings the question of loyalty back onto the agenda. We have been struggling for 50 years. “We are loyal citizens,” we say. “Trust us, there’s no need to worry.” This is brought down by the image left by those who went to that rally.
Q: As a Turkish-origin politician, what do you say to the German public?
A: …Erdoğan has 100 percent lost Germany.
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Wow, was hiring cheap Turkish labour post-WW II and letting them stay ever a mistake. Talk about pennywise and pound-foolish.
This man (Özdemir) sounds reasonable. He likely belongs to the Green Party because it is more welcoming of foreigners.
It probably is the case that the conservative German parties are less welcoming than, say, in Canada (we seem to have quite a few foreigners in our Conservative Party).