Merkel talks human rights with Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan


German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she is ready to bring up critical issues with the visiting Turkish president. But first, Erdogan has received full military honors from the German head of state.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is set to face criticism over human rights issues in his country when he meets with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday.

“The human rights situation is not the way I would like to imagine it,” Merkel said on Thursday evening at an event in the southwestern German city of Augsburg.

She said that where there was “something deserving of criticism,” she would censor it, while pointing out that Turkey was not the only country where human rights were not adequately respected.

Merkel has come under pressure to bring up the issues of human rights with Erdogan on a visit that has aroused considerable controversy amid perceptions that the Turkish leader is moving his country toward an authoritarian system.

Ties with Germany have deteriorated following a failed coup attempt in Turkey two years ago, to which Ankara has reacted with draconian measures, including jailing journalists, soldiers and public servants, among them several German citizens.

No financial help

Germany’s minister of for Europe at the Foreign Ministry, Michael Roth, on Friday called on Erdogan to halt the current political trend toward authoritarianism in Turkey.

“Our expectations are clear: the release of the German people who have been arrested for political reasons, and at last some movement toward democracy and the rule of law,” he said.

Both Merkel and Roth rejected the idea of Germany providing financial help to the struggling Turkish economy, with Roth stating that many German companies would invest in Turkey again if the country returned to democratic and constitutional principles.


Multiple protests

Erdogan’s visit, which began on Thursday and ends on Saturday after the opening of a central mosque in Cologne, has triggered numerous protests by people demonstrating against the arrest of journalists and government critics in Turkey in the wake of the failed coup.

Organizers of one large protest at Berlin’s Potsdam Square, which is to take part on Friday afternoon under the motto “Erdogan not welcome,” expect some 10,000 participants.

Erdogan was received by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier with full military honors on Friday morning. Following talks with Steinmeier, he is to meet with Merkel and have lunch with her.

Steinmeier, who will also host Erdogan at a state dinner on Friday evening, said ahead of Erdogan’s visit that it did not express any normalization of German-Turkish relations, but could be a start.

Erdogan himself has said that his visit aims to improve ties with his “German friends.”


tj/ng (dpa, Reuters, AFP)


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