The EU should change its Turkey strategy as it can longer “shrug” at Ankara’s behavior, European Commissioner for Enlargement Johannes Hahn told Süddeutsche Zeitung in an interview published late on Aug. 21.
“I believe it is time for the member states to discuss the strategic implications of [Turkey’s] behavior,” Hahn said. “Shrugging alone is not a political strategy in the long run.”
“The interference of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a national election campaign, as well as requests for extradition regarding alleged political opponents, are unacceptable,” Hahn said, adding that Ankara “is apparently not willing to revise its course, which brings it further and further away from Europe.”
On Aug. 18, Erdoğan called on Turks in Germany not to vote for the ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the Social Democratic Party (SPD), or the Greens, claiming they are “enemies” of Turkey.
“Right now in Germany the [Social Democrats] SPD and the [Christian Democrats] CDU are saying: ‘We can get many votes if we batter Turkey.’ I am telling all my citizens in Germany to never support those parties. Do not support the CDU, the SPD or the Greens. They are all the enemies of Turkey,” Erdoğan told reporters in Istanbul on Aug. 18.
He also said the recent crisis between Ankara and Berlin was a result of a “race for votes” ahead of the general elections in Germany set to take place on Sept. 24.
Politicians in Germany and Austria blasted the Turkish president’s remarks as an attempt to interfere in their countries’ internal affairs.
Hahn also touched on the detention of Turkish-German writer Doğan Akhanlı in Spain upon Ankara’s request, describing Turkey’s attempt to extract the author from Spain, where he was on holiday, as “unacceptable.”
Akhanlı was detained in Spain on Aug. 19 after Turkey issued an Interpol warrant for the writer but he was conditionally released two days later and ordered to remain in Madrid.
On Aug. 20, German Chancellor Angela Merkel criticized Turkey’s use of Interpol to detain Akhanli, saying it amounted to an “abuse” of the agency.
“We must not misuse international organizations like Interpol for such purposes,” she told voters at a town hall event televised by German TV channel RTL.