German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan traded barbs on November 17 over the Israel-Hamas war.
Turkey’s leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, paid a highly controversial visit to Germany, a faithful defender of Israel, a country the Turkish president has recently labelled a „terror state”. Erdogan’s latest accusations directed against Israel and his whitewashing of the Hamas terrorist organisation’s actions have made the visit more challenging, reports the France24.
Ahead of his trip to Germany, besides his verbal attacks against Israel, Erdogan also alleged that the West was „trying to exonerate the murderers.” While Erdogan did not repeat his statements defending Hamas during his visit to Berlin, he did, however, lash out at Israel over its air and ground campaign in Gaza. He also suggested that Germany, where antisemitism is illegal because of Berlin’s historic responsibilities over the Holocaust, was limited in its ability to speak freely about the Israel-Hamas war.
„I speak freely because we do not owe Israel anything. We did not go through the Holocaust,” Erdogan said, suggesting that Germany carried a „psychological debt”. „If we were in debt, we could not talk so freely. But those who are in debt cannot talk freely,” he said.
Erdogan also asserted that „Israel’s attacks on Palestinian lands must end and that the reaction from the whole world against human rights violations is important”.
Nevertheless, Chancellor Scholz stood his ground and voiced backing for Israel’s war on Hamas, asserting that there is no chance for long-term peace in the region while Hamas is able to launch attacks. „There is a need to make Israel’s self-defence possible and not to call it into question,” he said.
Ahead of his visit, Erdogan’s stance had sparked questions over the decision to host him at this time due to the significant division between the German and Turkish leaders regarding Israel’s war on Hamas. The opposition conservatives and even the liberal FDP, a member of Scholz’s coalition, urged the chancellor to scrap the invitation.
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung daily said Germany offered the „ideal stage” for Erdogan to position himself as a voice for the „global south”. „As the loudest critic of Israel, he is underlining his demand for leadership of the Islamic world,” it wrote.
Standing next to Erdogan, Scholz acknowledged „it is no secret” that both sides viewed the conflict differently, adding that „that’s why in these difficult moments, we need direct talks with each other.”
While ties between the two countries have always been uneasy, Berlin recognises that getting regional power Turkey onside was necessary to tackle thorny issues.