The German government urged Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday to respect its request that he not address Turks living in Germany when he attends this week’s Hamburg summit of the world’s 20 largest economies.
Ties between Berlin and Ankara have soured over the past year due to disagreements on a range of political and security issues, including Turkey’s jailing of a German-Turkish journalist and its refusal to let German lawmakers visit German troops at a Turkish air base.
Erdogan was also infuriated by what he called “Nazi era tactics” when some local German authorities, citing security concerns, barred Turkish politicians from campaigning in Germany ahead of a referendum on expanding the president’s powers.
Last week Germany rejected a request from Ankara that Erdogan be allowed to address members of the 3 million-strong ethnic Turkish community living in Germany during the G20 summit.
In unusually strong language that underlined the poor state of relations, a German foreign ministry spokesman said even appearances by Erdogan at a Turkish consulate or via a video feed would “would be an affront to the clearly expressed will of the government and a violation of German sovereignty”.
“Appearances of this nature have to be requested well in advance,” Martin Schaefer told a news conference when asked about “rumors” that Erdogan might still address Germany’s Turks despite Berlin’s request.
He said Germany could not ban Erdogan from speaking at a Turkish consulate, but had options for influencing such actions.
Last week German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said he did not want to see Turkish domestic conflicts played out among the Turkish community in Germany – a reference to deep political divisions within Turkey.