Erdogan to visit Germany

TIM BRAKEMEIER

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) hold a joint news conference in Berlin, Germany, 04 February 2014.

Erdogan to visit Germany


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Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan is expected in Berlin on Sept. 28-29, a spokeswoman for German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier announced on Tuesday.

It is not clear whether President Erdogan will also meet Chancellor Merkel. Erdogan has not visited Germany since 2014.

Cleavages

Ankara and Berlin are at a low point of their relationship.

Berlin has granted political asylum to several Turkish military officers that were wanted on charges of colluding to overthrow the Turkish government in July 2016. Many of them were NATO officers. Germany refused extradition.

Ankara also accuses Berlin of “harbouring” followers of the Gulen movement, which Ankara blames for the coup attempt.

In 2016 the German parliament recognized the Armenian genocide by Ottoman forces during the First World War. Later that year, German members of parliament were refused access to inspect their troops in the NATO military base of Incirlik last year. As a result, German air force units relocated to Jordan.

Ankara has arrested a number of reporters working for German media, most of whom are German citizens.

The crackdown on the Turkish opposition and doubts over a constitutional referendum result in Turkey have cast a shadow over the legitimacy of President Erdogan in Europe.  The Turkish government clashed with the German, Dutch, and Swiss government that objected to Turkish campaigning during the referendum in 2016.

Following the announcement on Tuesday, criticism on German media gravitates on the military honours and formal banquet planned during the official visit, for a head of state that is increasingly being referred to as “authoritarian.”

Need for Cooperation

Despite the deep cleavage between Ankara and Berlin, the two countries are also necessary partners.

Turkey is facing a major economic crisis, with double-digit inflation, sovereign bond yields, and a rapidly depreciating currency.

The German government needs Turkish support in disrupting refugee flows, an issue that is threatening to unseat Chancellor Merkel.

Both governments are in need of good news, but will be reluctant to make public compromises.

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