"I hope for a NO in the Turkish referendum"

Interview with the Turkish newspaper BirGün

First of all, how do you evaluate the crisis between Turkey and Germany?

The relations have cooled down in the last weeks. But only because the Turkish Governments’ statements have reached a level that makes it hard take them serious. Until now, the Merkel Government has relied on its Turkish partners in the light of the anti-immigration deal. This has led to a mutual dependence which resulted in the fact, that the German Government didn’t criticize the Turkish Government at all, accepting that way the massive and undemocratic persecution of the Turkish opposition, media, academics, and others. We have criticized the Merkel Government for that cronyism with the dictatorship-to-be. We also condemn Erdoğan’s plans for a constitutional reform and the persecution. I hope that the people in Turkey will vote NO in the referendum.

On the other hand, Deniz Yücel was arrested because of the news he had reported. What does it mean according to you?

On the one hand it represents the repression against critical journalists that has been going on especially in the last year. The freedom of press is currently under siege in Turkey. On the other hand, it seems that the Erdoğan Government is testing how far it can go until Merkel isn’t willing anymore to keep calm and accept what is happening. To jail a German journalist under absurd reproaches like in Deniz Yücel’s case puts the German-Turkish relations to the test.

Erdoğan insists that the decision of Germany means that Nazi practice in government still continues. What is your comment, is it really within the scope of freedom of expression or not?

To compare the refusal of some public acts with Turkish Government representatives in Germany with Nazism is beyond reasoning. It’s not even worth commenting on such absurdity. Even more if we recall that it was Mr. Erdoğan who a year ago cited Germany under Hitler as an example for his plans to rebuild Turkey. Of course it is a sensitive question whether it is correct to prevent Government representatives from other countries from speaking publicly in Germany. But in this case, there are two strong arguments in favor of such a ban: First, it is not a normal, democratic, and fair election process that is coming up in Turkey. It is about the transformation of the Turkish state into a clear dictatorship. And there are currently no conditions for fair elections with the state of exception still intact, the media under almost complete control of the Government, and thousands of opponents to the Government in prison for political reasons. Secondly, I don’t think that it is fair for Government representatives to promote one choice of the referendum when they come to Germany. They come here as representatives of the whole country, not just one part.

On the other hand, it is known from the past that Turkish statesman’s speeches host some kind of expressions which cause polarization between Turkish citizens and the governments in Europe. Do you think that this is also a reason?

I am quite sure that we are observing an intent to increase the polarization of the society in Turkey in light of the referendum. The polls are clearly showing that currently there is no majority to support Erdoğan’s plans for a presidential system. By the creation of external adversaries, Erdoğan tries to unite his followers. That is the case in the conflict with Germany and other European countries and it is also the case with the war in East Turkey.


Citations in Turkish:

Andrej Hunko, MdB 2018