Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has further strained his country’s relationship with Germany by describing the main German political parties as “enemies of Turkey”.
Speaking after Friday prayers to his supporters gathered in a mosque in Istanbul, the Turkish President criticised those who he said had an aggressive or disrespectful attitude to his country, inviting Turks in Germany to teach the major political parties there a lesson when the country goes to the polls on 24 September.
He appealed to more than 1.2 million Germans of Turkish descent not to vote for either of Germany’s major parties Merkel’s Christian Democrat Union (CDU) and Social Democrats (SPD) or the Greens. He called on Turks in Germany to support political parties “not hostile to Turkey”.
He accused Merkel’s party of reneging on its promise to allow Turks visa-free travel to the Schengen area and stalling Turkey’s application to join the European Union.
“I would say to all compatriots in Germany, do not support [the Christian Democrats],” the Turkish president said. “Not the Christian Democrats, not the SPD [Social Democrats], not the Greens. They are all enemies of Turkey.”
The SPD and the Greens have regularly criticized Erdogan for jailing German activists and journalists, especially after the failed coup of 2016 with the massive purge of thousands of people.
Foreign Minister and SPD member Sigmar Gabriel said last month that Turkey had “abandoned the ground of European values” by jailing “innocent visitors to their country on outrageous charges.”
Berlin responded with fury to Erdogan’s remarks.
Chancellor Merkel shot back at a campaign event that evening, declaring that Germany “would not allow any kind of interference” in the election and would “not let anyone, including President Erdoğan, influence the right of our German citizens, whatever their origin, to vote freely.”
Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel of the SPD struck a similar note, saying Berlin would not tolerate any Turkish meddling in German politics.
Foreign Minister, Sigmar Gabriel, said: “I don’t want the people here being set against each other. We stand for a democratic country, and we don’t tolerate any external interference in our democracy”
Erdogan responded swiftly, telling Gabriel that he should learn to “know your limits”. In the same old Anatolian feudal style he speaks to average Turkish citizens daring to pose a complain, Erdogan said about Gabriel:
“He knows no limits! Who are you to talk to the president of Turkey? Know your limits. He is trying to teach us a lesson… How long have you been in politics? How old are you?” Erdogan said in a bitter personal attack on Gabriel. as if he was talking to a .
He repeated his call to German Turks to “teach [the parties] a lesson in the German election.”
Two days later, Merkel attacked Erdogan saying he misuses Interpol warrants to hunt down his political opponents.
Turkey has used an Interpol arrest warrant to detain Dogan Akhanli, a German writer of Turkish descent, in Spain. This amounted to abuse of the international police agency, the German Chancellor said .
“We must not misuse international organisations like Interpol for such purposes,” Merkel said
“(Dogan’s) is one of many cases, unfortunately,” Merkel said, in a sharpening of her tone toward Ankara. “That’s why we have massively changed our Turkish policy recently … because it’s quite unacceptable that Erdogan does this.”
Chancellor candidate of SPD and former European Parliament President, Martin Schulz, said “Erdogan’s behavior has paranoid features.”
Turkish – German relations turned sour last year, when Angela Merkel prevented Turkish politicians from addressing campaign rallies directed at Turkish citizens in Germany before the Turkish Referendum.