Erdoğan and Scholz: forced to cooperate?
Turkish President Erdoğan was received by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin in a state visit on Friday. The two sides presented opposing perspectives on the war in the Middle East. Erdoğan criticised the actions of the Israeli army and called for a ceasefire, while Scholz emphasised Israel’s right to exist and defend itself. Europe’s press looks at what binds the two countries together.
They want something from each other
The mood is at least better than during the last visit five years ago, comments Gazeta Wyborcza:
“Back then, political tensions were already palpable before Erdoğan’s arrival in Berlin and many German politicians boycotted the state banquet held for him. This time, Erdoğan’s visit took place in a calmer atmosphere. This is due to the specific issues at stake. Germany wants Turkey to continue the agreement concluded with the EU to stem the flow of migrants to Europe. In return, the Turkish side expressed in Berlin its desire for a relaxation of visa regulations for its citizens, and Erdoğan also called on Germany to authorise the sale of 40 Eurofighter fighter jets to Ankara.”
The economy outweighs political differences
Evrensel sees good reasons on both sides for not letting the political tensions boil over:
“The volume of trade between the two countries amounts to almost 50 billion euros. The economy ministers who met last month expressed their determination to increase the volume of trade and signed new agreements. While the German capital needs Turkey for economic investments, to deal with refugees and regarding strategies in the Middle East, the Turkish capital needs Germany for money from Europe and progress in EU negotiations. For these reasons, the negotiations will be conducted very cautiously so as not to jeopardise economic and political interests.”
A verbose abject failure
The backdrop of the Middle East conflict prevented Chancellor Scholz from standing up to Erdoğan, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung writes angrily:
“The painful ‘but’ that spoke in favour of politeness with gritted teeth can be summed up in two words: Nato and refugees. Turkey is an indispensable partner in the Western military alliance. ... The EU-Turkey agreement of 2016 prevents even more people from making their way to Germany, where irregular migration is already perceived as a major political problem. So there was no alternative to welcoming Erdoğan, who then presented himself on German soil as the leader of the Islamic world. And so the ‘German raison d’état’ fell victim to Scholz’s verbose abject failure that evening.”
Listen to Turkish civil society
Germany needs to fundamentally rethink its Turkey policy, demands Der Tagesspiegel:
“The Turkish president is showing Germany up, on purpose. He is insulting the German president and ‘the other one’, the chancellor. After Erdoğan’s repeated Islamist statements no one can seriously assume that he would become a democrat as a result of EU membership. His ties to the West through Nato membership over the years have also failed to influence or reform him in this respect. ... But instead of listening to Turkey’s existing democratic civil society, which is calling for a change of course, Erdoğan’s abominations are being tolerated. Because he is too important for Germany’s refugee deals? That is a pathetically opportunistic justification in the long run.”