Erdogan with Scholz
30 minutes on the verge of scandal: The Chancellor’s performance was confident
Olaf Scholz received Recep Tayyip Erdogan for a controversial state visit. At the press conference that followed, the Turkish president scolded and provoked, but in the end the Chancellor remained confident and the guest showed nerves.
The tension was almost palpable. The press conference between the Chancellor and the Turkish President lasted almost half an hour. And it felt like there was a scandal in the air every second. Recep mixed in almost every sentence Tayyip Erdogan a portion of provocation – and yet it didn’t go so far that Olaf Scholz had to contradict it.
The Chancellor, in turn, managed to clearly express Germany’s support for Israel, make the differences with Erdogan clear – and still appear as a host who values the conversation with his visitor. It was hard work for Olaf Scholzbut at least he can count this press conference with Erdogan as a success.
The president pulled himself together
A lot depended on this appearance for the Chancellor. After Erdogan’s verbal attacks Israel In the past few weeks, Scholz had rejected calls not to receive the Turkish president at all. Erdogan had described Israel as a terrorist state and Hamas as a liberation army. The public appearance had to legitimize that, despite all the trouble, it was worth talking to Erdogan. In front of the press, Scholz had to legitimize his decision not to disinvite the guest. Scholz could not have afforded to react incorrectly a second time, as happened to him during the visit of the President of the Palestinian Authority. So Erdogan could have made the Chancellor look very bad if he had repeated his tirades. But he didn’t. The president pulled himself together. Within his possibilities.
The Chancellor’s distant politeness
Of course, it is still difficult to bear when Erdogan takes the Israeli hostages Hamas only mentioned in a subordinate clause. When he effectively reverses the cause and effect of war. When he denies Israel’s right to self-defense by saying that bombing hospitals is not in the Torah. But by pushing hard to the limit of what was tolerable with every thought and every word without exceeding this limit, it also became obvious that Erdogan did not want to risk a further deterioration in German-Turkish relations.
Olaf Scholz appeared distant and polite, without appearing too lenient or even submissive. He rightly praised Erdogan’s mediation of the grain agreement between Russia and Ukraine. It almost sounded like an encouragement to the Turkish president to play a more moderate role in the war between Israel and Hamas. But then the Chancellor emphasized Israel’s right to exist, condemned the Hamas attack as barbaric and called for the hostages to be released. He expressed sympathy for the suffering of the Palestinian civilian population, but not without clearly pointing out that these people, too, are effectively hostages in the hands of Hamas.
The fact that Erdogan insulted a German journalist at the end for his question made it clear that after half an hour his nerves were more frayed than those of the Chancellor. He stood there with a straight face. One would almost like to say: confident.