It was only 48 hours after Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s round of insults against Emmanuel Macron and through his spokesperson, Steffen Seibert, that Angela Merkel finally reacted by strongly condemning the remarks “Defamatory” and “absolutely unacceptable” of the Turkish president. Faced with the unanimity of European opprobrium, the response of the Turkish president was not long in coming. In Europe, accuses Erdogan, hatred against Islam and Muslims “is spreading like the plague”. On Monday he compared European leaders to “the Nazis’ chain links.” An easy and particularly offensive image for the German Chancellor who, like Emmanuel Macron, has already been the target of the Turkish President’s wrath in a case of freedom of expression.
In 2012, the provocations of the German comedian Jan Böhmermann who, in a television clip, mocked the “boss of the Bosphorus” and called him a “goat bitch” had enraged Erdogan and placed Angela Merkel in an extremely delicate situation. . Three years ago, the Turkish president accused the German chancellor of “Nazi methods” after the ban on electoral meetings in Germany for the yes to the Turkish referendum intended to extend presidential powers.
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A mosque raided in Berlin
France is not the only one to be the target of the Turkish president’s anger. Last week, just days after the assassination of Samuel Paty and the harsh condemnation of Emmanuel Macron, German police raided the Mevlana mosque in Kreuzberg, the Turkish-alternative district of Berlin. Reason for this descent mobilizing 150 police officers: the management of the most famous and most frequented mosque in Berlin is suspected of having defrauded to recover the “Soforthilfe”, these emergency public subsidies granted to companies to come to their aid during the pandemic. Thus, 70,000 euros of public funds would have been embezzled by this non-profit association which, ensures its website, lives solely on donations. However, this status disqualifies it from receiving state subsidies.
If Angela Merkel was not entitled to such brutal treatment as Emmanuel Macron, the criticisms against Germany are no less virulent. The Turkish president immediately denounced last Friday on Twitter this action “Islamophobic” and “racist”, accusing the German police of not respecting religious freedom. This search “sends Europe back to the dark hours of the Middle Ages. “” I naturally appeal to Chancellor Merkel, he added. Does it seem like freedom of worship exists in your country? How then is it possible that more than 100 policemen come to interrupt the morning prayer in a mosque? “
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Merkel in an awkward position
Is Recep Tayyip Erdogan trying to spare the German Chancellor he needs to calm the tense relations between the European Union and Turkey? On the war in Libya, on the Turkish gas explorations in the eastern Mediterranean also coveted by Greece and Cyprus and, more recently, on Ankara’s support for Azerbaijan at war with Armenia, the sources of conflict are multiple. . Angela Merkel tries to temper them and play the mediator. If no one suspects Angela Merkel of sympathies with Erdogan and if she does not delude herself into Turkish politics, the point is that the German Chancellor needs the Turkish president and is trying as hard as she can. , not to raise the tone.
First, because 1.5 million Turks live in Germany, the largest community in Europe, settled in the country for a long time. There was no question of adding fuel to the fire and provoking community tensions. Second, and above all because the German Chancellor is the European leader who has the least interest in endangering the agreement concluded in March 2016 between the European Union and Turkey to control the migratory flow at the gates of Europe. Angela Merkel needs Erdogan to block the Balkan route which leads directly to Germany, El Dorado for most migrants. The Chancellor, whom some in Germany suspect of having let herself be taken hostage, therefore has every interest in calming things down and not alienating the Turkish president. It tries to navigate between the defense of freedom of opinion and the handling of Turkey’s sensitivities.