Turkey slams Germany’s ‘disrespectful messages’ about Erdogan

Martin Schulz / eKathimerini

CBC — Turkish officials have denounced German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Martin Schulz, her main opponent in this month’s general election, for their anti-Turkish rhetoric during a televised debate

Ibrahim Kalin, spokesman for the Turkish presidency, said in a tweet Monday that Merkel and her Social Democratic Party rival were seeking to divert attention from urgent issues in their country and in Europe, such as a surge in discrimination and racism.

In Sunday’s debate, Schulz said he would seek to end long-running but currently stalled talks on Turkey joining the EU over what he perceived to be Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s increasingly authoritarian policies.

Merkel, who has previously expressed doubts about Turkey ever joining the EU, refused to commit firmly to the move, which would have to be agreed among EU members. She sharply criticized Erdogan’s rule, saying: “Turkey is departing from all democratic practices at breakneck speed.”

Omer Celik, Turkey’s chief negotiator for its European Union bid, slammed the candidates for their “careless” tone.

“We do not accept these disrespectful messages against Turkey,” he said in a tweet.

Turkey’s foreign ministry also released a statement criticizing the “myopic views” of politicians and reminding the world of Turkey’s role in stemming a migrant crisis from pushing the EU into “a big chaos.”

One reason Merkel gave for keeping lines of communication open with Turkey was Germany’s attempts to secure the release of 12 German citizens being held there for what Berlin considers political reasons.

Polls show a double-digit lead for Merkel’s conservative bloc over Schulz’s centre-left Social Democrats before Germany’s Sept. 24 election.

In July Germany’s foreign minister revised  its travel advice for Turkey following the jailing of a German human rights activist who has no ties to the country.

German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel said that the jailing of Peter Steudtner suggests that something similar could happen to any citizen.