Germany is “committing suicide”. So said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in an exclusive interview with France 24. He was referring to Berlin’s decision not to let him speak to Turks in Germany during his visit to the country for a G20 leaders’ summit, which starts on July 7.
“Germany must correct this mistake,” he added.
As reported by the Reuters news agency, Erdogan also said as long as Germany did not send supporters of Erdogan’s foe Fethullah Gulen back to Turkey, his country would view Germany as a land that protected terrorists.
Ankara has blamed Gulen, a Muslim cleric, for orchestrating a failed coup last July. Gulen has denied involvement.
More specifically, Erodogan told France 24 that Europe has been unfair in its criticism of his nation and rejected claims that he is using last summer’s failed coup to carry out a witch hunt against dissenting voices. He said he would allow the opposition “Justice March” from Ankara to Istanbul to proceed if there is no violence.
Asked about the Syria crisis, Erdogan warned that Turkey is ready to intervene militarily in the north to repel Syrian Kurdish forces there, forces armed and supported by the US but seen as a terrorist organisation by Turkey.
A de-escalation zone could soon be established by Turkish and Russian troops in the region, said Erdogan.
About Qatar, he said the demands made on the small Gulf nation were unacceptable, but he remained open to the possibility of shuttering the Turkish military base there if Qatari authorities were to make such a request.