Erdogan puts on his show, Merkel quiet
Erdogan has started his official visits in Berlin, and met with Chancellor Merkel already. The joint press conference by the two leaders that only a few journalists were allowed to attend turned into Erdogan putting on a show.
The Berlin administration, after having been subjected to insults by the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan like “You are displaying Nazi practices”, “You are the back yard of terrorist organizations” and “I will look at what my people say, not what Hans says” in recent years, has officially announced that they are starting a new process with the Ankara regime.
GOOD COP, BAD COP
Erdogan has been in Berlin since Thursday, and was greeted on the red carpet by German President Frank Walter Steinmeier with a military ceremony on Friday morning. The two presidents later met in private and didn’t give statements to the press, but Steinmeier’s tense photographs taken during the meeting were published in the media.
Unlike Steinmeier, Chancellor Angela Merkel greeted Erdogan in smiles. On the image the two German leaders displayed, German media wrote, “Steinmeier was the bad cop, and Merkel was the good cop.” Erdogan went into the Prime Ministry building after the police evacuated the vicinity of government buildings and the Federal Parliament.
MESSAGES OF A “NEW PERIOD STARTING”
After their meeting, Merkel and Erdogan faced journalists together, but only a few journalists were allowed into the hall. Accreditation of many journalists who had previous applications were cancelled on the Turkish officials’ demand. Journalist Can Dündar, who had said he would ask Erdogan about journalists in Turkey, issued a statement shortly before the press conference and announced that he wouldn’t be attending.
Merkel took the first word in the press conference and said they had a fruitful meeting with Erdogan, adding that “a new period has started in the relationship between the two countries”. Merkel said they discussed several important issues and that she will be meeting Erdogan again in a breakfast on Saturday, implying that the negotiations will continue.
MERKEL DECLARES QUADRUPLE SUMMIT
“We as Germany want a stable Turkey,” said Merkel and avoided criticizing the Turkish state. She announced that there will be a quadruple summit in mid-October with Russian, Turkish and French presidents to discuss the Idlib matter. Highlights from Merkel’s comments are as follows:
“We want to improve our cooperation on fighting terrorism. We want to revive the cooperation between the Interior Ministries. The Foreign Ministries have great coordination. It’s not just the matter of some German citizens being under arrest in Turkey, we do have difference in opinion about certain matters. But we need to handle them through bilateral dialogue. I definitely favor talks and meetings. I want to say I am excited for the meeting tomorrow.”
When a Turkish journalist asked about the fight against the PKK and the extradition of Gulen movement members who took asylum in Germany, Merkel said:
“What I can say is that the PKK has been banned in Germany. All its activity is also banned. We didn’t discuss details today. But we had, in previous meetings. There are persons who have arrest warrants in Germany as well. We haven’t achieved success in certain cases. We are not certain whether certain individuals are in Germany or not, the investigations continue. But in regards to considering the Gulen movement at the same level as the PKK, we are not at that stage yet, we need more information.”
Erdogan put on a show and claimed that Turkey has rule of law. He added that they are planning to fulfill the remaining 6 criteria for the visa exemption and added: “The visa exemption and the customs union being updated will benefit both Turkey and Europe. We would like this critical process to move forward without being subjected to whims of certain circles. We place great importance on Germany’s support.”
ERDOGAN ADMITS TO “WORKING WITH GERMAN INTELLIGENCE”
Erdogan said they need more support from Germany in listing the Gulen movement as a terrorist organization and in the fight against the PKK, and admitted that the MİT works together with German intelligence services.
Erdogan said: “Of course there are thousands of terrorist PKK members in Germany, whose names we even know. It is a fact that these people are here, dispersed among the public. When it comes to FETO, hundreds of FETO members are also here. And here, I believe it will make our job easier if we hand over whoever we catch, wherever we catch them, with efforts by our intelligence services or the joint efforts with the German intelligence services, in mutual confidence.”
When asked about the German citizens under arrest in Germany, Merkel said: “Of course I’m not going to say one by one how we talk about the matter among ourselves, but we do handle the issue in a concrete manner. There are long discussions. For instance, the person you cite now is one of the cases that make our job more difficult. There are a total of 5 cases. You can trust us that the matter is handled in an utterly concrete way.”
Ignoring the trampled rule of law in Turkey and the judiciary that has been subjugated to him, Erdogan made the following claims: “So, I don’t have the right to criticize the legal system or the courts in Germany, and you don’t have the right to criticize the Turkish legal system. The judiciary is independent. The verdicts they issue are to be respected. There have been times that even I in my own country have seen verdicts I am not pleased with, but I have had to comply.”
Merkel said the following as response to a question regarding journalist Can Dündar: “It is clear that there is conflict regarding Dündar. He himself has decided not to attend this press conference. I would still like to make this clear: There is in no way, shape or form a dual-accreditation system here.” Meanwhile, Erdogan claimed Dündar is a spy and demanded his extradition.
One of the reporters following the press conference, Ertugrul Yigit, was forcibly removed from the hall by German security units for wearing a t-shirt that read “Gazetecilere Özgürlük” (“Freedom for Journalists”).