The Turkish president’s visit is dominated by the Gaza war and Erdogan’s attacks against Israel. However, there is no scandal. Another topic will be added in the short term.
At their meeting in Berlin, Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan openly aired their differences regarding the Gaza war, but avoided a scandal.
While Erdogan condemned the Israeli warfare in the Gaza Strip with many deaths among the civilian population, Scholz emphasized Israel’s right to self-defense against the terrorist Hamas. The Chancellor vehemently defended Israel’s right to exist, which Erdogan had questioned before his visit: “Let me say it very clearly: Israel’s right to exist is irrefutable for us.”
Erdogan’s visit to Germany, the first in almost four years, was controversial because of his harsh verbal attacks against Israel in connection with the Gaza war. The Turkish president condemned the murder of hundreds of Israeli civilians in the terrorist attack on October 7th, but later described the Hamas responsible as a “liberation organization.” On the other hand, he accused Israel of “genocide” (genocide) in the Gaza Strip and described the country as a “terrorist state”. The country is questioning its “legitimacy through its own fascism,” he said.
“Terror state” and “fascism”: Erdogan does not repeat allegations
However, in the press conference with Scholz, Erdogan avoided further escalation. Even when asked, he did not repeat the allegations of genocide and fascism against Israel. He also did not question Israel’s right to exist again and refrained from calling Hamas a “liberation organization.”
However, there were individual new leaders of the Turkish president. He accused Israel of holding more hostages than Hamas’s more than 200 in the Gaza Strip. There have been “hostages and prisoners” in Israel’s hands for years and “far more.” What exactly Erdogan was referring to remained unclear.
The Turkish president also criticized Israel for killing thousands of Palestinians, destroying hospitals and bombing prayer houses and churches. “Why is there no reaction?” Erdogan claimed to be able to speak freely and added: “Because we don’t owe Israel anything.” His country was not involved in the Holocaust. This can be understood as a veiled criticism that Germany is overly protective of Israel because of its historical guilt for the Holocaust.
Scholz doesn’t add fuel to the fire
Scholz had previously rejected Erdogan’s verbal attacks as “absurd”. He too was careful not to add any more fuel to the fire. Both politicians agreed that, in the short term, humanitarian ceasefires to provide supplies to the civilian population and, in the long term, a two-state solution with peaceful coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians were necessary.
“It’s no secret that we have very different views on the conflict,” said Scholz in the press conference, which was followed by a dinner together. That’s precisely why the discussions are important.
“Anyone who knows Germany knows: Our solidarity with Israel is beyond question. Israel has the right under international law to defend itself.” At the same time, Scholz emphasized: “The suffering of the Palestinian civilian population in Gaza also depresses us.” Germany has been one of the largest donors of aid to the Palestinian population for decades.
Erdogan: Save the region from the “Ring of Fire”.
Erdogan called for a humanitarian ceasefire in the Gaza war. If Germany and Turkey could reach such a ceasefire together, there would be a chance of saving the region from this “ring of fire,” he said. “The priority for all of us is to ensure a ceasefire and the full provision of humanitarian assistance.” Everyone must work for lasting peace in the Middle East. “How much can Germany contribute? How can we take these steps together?”
Delivery of Eurofighter fighter aircraft
Shortly before Erdogan’s arrival, Turkey pushed for a German yes to the purchase of Eurofighter jets. Defense Minister Yasar Güler said on Thursday that Turkey intended to buy 40 of the fighter jets and already had approval from Britain and Spain. Now they want to convince Germany. In the press conference, Scholz did not comment on whether Germany would agree to the export. A yes to arms exports is considered unlikely. For years, the federal government has only approved a small amount of military equipment to its NATO partner Turkey.
It was expected that this topic would also come up at the dinner table. In the joint press conference, Erdogan said there are many countries that produce fighter jets, not just Germany. “Of course you can also get this from other countries.”
Limiting irregular migration
Scholz went into the conversation with Erdogan with another urgent wish: to revive the migration agreement between the EU and Turkey, which is intended to curb the influx of refugees into Europe. “We are united by the goal of limiting irregular migration,” said the Chancellor.
The 2016 agreement was a good agreement. “I am committed to ensuring that this agreement continues in the European Union. It is to our mutual benefit.” We will also have to talk about the question of returning migrants.
Scholz announced that he also wanted to talk to Erdogan about how concrete progress could be achieved in Turkey’s relations with the European Union. “In recent years we have fallen short of our possibilities and our potential in relations between the EU and Turkey.” Erdogan emphasized that his country sincerely wants the EU accession process to continue. Germany’s support is very important. “Turkey has been waiting at the door of the European Union for 52 years.” The conversation between the two lasted almost two hours.
Steinmeier also emphasizes Israel’s right to exist
After his arrival in Berlin, the Turkish President was initially received by Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier at Bellevue Palace. According to the Federal President’s Office, he also made the German position in the Middle East conflict “strongly” clear. “The Federal President underlined the classification of Hamas’ attack on Israel as a terrorist attack and Hamas as a terrorist organization. He emphasized Israel’s right to exist and its right to self-defense,” it said.