Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected in Berlin on Friday on a short visit to Germany as the two countries’ stances on the war between Israel and Hamas are poles apart.
Erdogan is due to meet Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Germany’s largely ceremonial president, Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Scholz invited Erdogan to visit in May following his re-election.
Turkey is viewed as an awkward but essential partner in Germany, which is home to more than 3 million people with Turkish roots. It’s a NATO ally that also is important in efforts to control the flow of refugees and migrants to Europe, but there have been tensions in recent years over a variety of issues.
This visit is overshadowed by a growing chasm between the two countries’ stance on events following Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel.
Germany is a staunch ally of Israel and has opposed calls for a cease-fire, while pushing for aid to civilians in Gaza, advocating “humanitarian pauses” and seeking to keep open channels of communication with other countries in the region to prevent the conflict from spreading.
Erdogan has taken an increasingly strident stance against Israel. On Wednesday, he called it a “terrorist state” intent on destroying Gaza along with all of its residents. He described Hamas militants as “resistance fighters” trying to protect their lands and people. Hamas is considered a terrorist organisation by Israel, the United States and European Union.
Those and similar comments have appalled politicians across the spectrum in Germany. Asked earlier this week about Erdogan’s comments, Scholz didn’t mention the Turkish leader by name but said “the accusations that are being made there against Israel are absurd.” On Wednesday, Scholz told parliament that his talks with Erdogan will include a discussion of “differing views — in this question, it is very important that there is clarity and that we make our own position very clear.” Israel recalled its diplomats from Turkey last month after Erdogan accused Israel of committing war crimes. Turkey later also recalled its ambassador from Israel.