Turkey’s strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan called his countryman in Germany not to vote for Merkel’s party, CDU, in the upcoming federal election in September. Erdogan said that Merkel’s party and her ruling coalition are ‘enemies of Turkey’.
“I am calling on all my countrymen in Germany: the Christian Democrats, SDP, the Green Party are all enemies of Turkey. Support those political parties who are not enemies of Turkey,” Erdogan said on Friday.
“I call on them not to vote for those parties who have been engaged in such aggressive, disrespectful attitudes against Turkey, and I invite them to teach a lesson to those political parties at the ballot box,” he said.
In response to his statement, Merkel said Germany: “will not tolerate any kind of interference”, while German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel called Erdogan’s comments: “an unprecedented act of interference in the sovereignty of our country.”
Relations between Turkey and Germany worsened significantly following the failed coup attempt against Erdogan in July last year. The diplomatic row between two countries escalated after German authorities prevented Turkish officials from holding rallies of Turkish citizens living in Germany.
Turkey also accused Germany of protecting the supporters of Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara linked with the coup attempt. Another low point in relations between the two countries came when German human rights activist was arrested in Turkey, under accusations of “supporting a terrorist organization.”
Germany called Turkey to release detained German citizens, and threatened with sanctions. But the defiant Erdogan continued with combative rhetoric, saying Turkey would not longer succumb to European pressure.
Another important aspect of Turkey-Germany and Turkey-EU relations is the migrant deal between Ankara and Brussels. The deal, signed in 2016, largely stopped the main influx of refugees coming to Europe via Turkey and Balkans, but Erdogan threatened Ankara might scrap the deal.
Under the provisions of the deal, Turkey agreed to receive back migrants from Greece, in exchange for economic concessions and visa liberalization from the EU. Although the deal held, despite Erdogan’s threats, it enabled Turkey to pressure Brussels and Berlin.
According to various estimations, there are around 3 to 4 millions Turks living in Germany. Federal election will be held on September 24, and the incumbent Chancellor Angela Merkel remains the favorite to win her fourth term.