Germany and Turkey on Friday showed their differences over the conflict in the Middle East. While German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier recognized Israel’s right to self-defense after the October 7 attack by Hamas, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, during his visit to Berlin, demanded an immediate end to Israeli bombing. This was reported by the DPA agency.
“It’s no secret that we have very different views on the conflict,” Scholz said at a joint press conference with Erdogan.
According to him, Israel’s right to exist is unquestionable for Germany and, like before him, Steinmeier also supported Israel’s right to self-defense after the attack by Hamas, which, according to Israeli authorities, left 1,200 dead.
According to Hamas-controlled authorities, more than 12,000 people, including about 5,000 children, died in retaliatory strikes by the Israeli army in the Gaza Strip. Scholz said the suffering of the Palestinians was “distressing” and that he had discussed with Erdogan how to prevent the conflict from spreading to other areas in the Middle East.
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Erdogan recently questioned the legitimacy of the Israeli state, accused the Israeli government of “genocide” of the Palestinians and called Hamas a liberation organization, prompting a wave of criticism in Germany, which is one of Israel’s biggest allies in Europe.
“Bombing hospitals or killing children is not in the Torah. This cannot be done,” Erdogan said on Friday, according to AFP. At the same time, he denied that his criticism of Israel had anti-Semitic undertones and described himself as a fighter against anti-Semitism.
According to DPA, however, the Turkish president agreed with Scholz that in the short term a humanitarian ceasefire is necessary, which would enable the supply of the civilian population in the Gaza Strip, and in the long term, the implementation of a two-state solution that would enable the peaceful coexistence of Israelis and Palestinians.
Spokesperson of the German President Cerstin Gammelinová on the social network X she stated, that the meeting with Erdogan covered the situation in the Middle East after the attack of the radical Palestinian movement Hamas on Israel and the war in Gaza, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the future of NATO, relations between the European Union and Turkey, as well as migration issues. According to her, Steinmeier repeated the German position, which describes the attack by Hamas on October 7 as terrorist. “He emphasized Israel’s right to exist as well as its right to self-defense,” the spokeswoman added.
According to Scholz, the topics of the meeting with Erdogan at the joint dinner will be, among other things, Sweden’s entry into NATO, which Turkey has been blocking for many months.
“We hope for a positive decision soon,” Scholz said. According to him, Germany and Turkey also have a common goal, which is to limit illegal migration. He also wants to discuss with Erdogan the topic of repatriation of rejected asylum seekers. Regarding relations between the EU and Turkey, Scholz said that they “have not used their potential” in recent years.
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Erdogan will spend only a few hours in Berlin, where his plane landed on Friday afternoon, and will end the visit today. This is his first visit to Germany in almost four years.
According to the agencies, Erdogan in Berlin was going to ask Germany, among other things, to comply with Turkey’s request for the purchase of 40 Eurofighter Typhoon combat aircraft. At the press conference, Scholz did not answer the question of whether his cabinet would approve the sale of multi-purpose aircraft, in the production of which Germany participates in the European consortium. On the topic, Erdogan said that Turkey is able to acquire fighter jets “from many other countries”, Reuters reported.
About 2.3 million ethnic Turks live in Germany, with a significant number of them sympathetic to Erdogan’s Islamist policies. The visit sparked controversy from the beginning, especially with regard to the president’s statements regarding the war in Gaza. Some voices, especially from among Jewish associations and the German opposition, called for its postponement or cancellation. Protests against Erdogan took place in Berlin on the same day, the police deployed thousands of officers.