Despite warnings, Turkish government’s election campaign in Germany continues

It came out that politicians from Turkey’s AKP-MHP government have held at least 100 meetings in Germany in the last three months despite warnings from the Berlin government.

In the run-up to the presidential and parliamentary elections to be held in Turkey in May, leading figures of the AKP/MHP government are on a campaign tour in Germany, disregarding the guidelines of the German government. These activities became public knowledge after the appearance of AKP MP Mustafa Açıkgöz in a mosque in Neuss on 13 January, who called on his followers to destroy opposition members of the PKK and the Gülen community. However, the extent of election campaign events of the Turkish ruling party in Germany is apparently much greater than is generally known.

The weekly German newspaper, the “Welt am Sonntag”, reported in today’s issue that more than 100 appearances by Turkish government politicians have taken place in mosques and clubhouses in Germany since September.

"What is discussed behind closed doors rarely gets out. And when it does, there are shocking insights like the one on 13 January in Neuss. At that time, the AKP member of parliament Mustafa Acikgöz spoke in a mosque, which is attributed to the right-wing extremist 'Grey Wolves', about 'destroying' supporters of the banned PKK and the Gülen movement, which is considered a terrorist organisation in Turkey. They must be pulled out of the holes they have crawled into, also in Germany," says the article, citing information by journalist Eren Güvercin based in Cologne.

Since 2017, election campaign appearances by foreign politicians have been banned in Germany three months before the vote. The reason for the new regulations were disputes in Germany in the run-up to the Turkish constitutional referendum. Since then, all political appearances by foreign government representatives outside of election campaign periods must be applied for and approved by the federal government ten days in advance.

After the calls for murder by AKP MP Açıkgöz in Neuss, the Foreign Office "invited the Turkish ambassador for a talk" and stated: "Appearances like that of a Turkish MP in Neuss must not be repeated". It was "unequivocally reminded that foreign election campaign events must be approved by us in advance". If Turkish representatives did not play by the rules, consequences would have to be considered, the ministry said.

Nevertheless, appearances by leading AKP politicians have continued to take place in Germany. The Turkish Minister of Agriculture, Vahit Kirişci, who travelled to the capital for "Green Week", met several times in public spaces with his supporters and gave speeches on the upcoming elections. On 20 January, Kirişci spoke at a meeting of the International Union of Democrats (UID), the AKP's lobby organisation in Germany, under the slogan "Turkey's Programme of the Century" about his party's election promises as "Vision 2023".

Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Yasim Ekrem Serim, who travelled to Germany last week for official talks, met with leaders of Turkish fascist groups, including ADÜTDF chairman Şentürk Doğruyol. The ADÜTDF, the umbrella organisation of Turkish nationalists, which organises itself as an extended arm of the MHP, is being monitored by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution.