Cavusoglu to speak at commemoration in Germany amid strained ties

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Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu is expected to speak at the 25th commemoration of a racist arson attack in Germany despite a political campaigning ban imposed on Turkish politicians by Berlin.

Cavusoglu arrived in the German city of Solingen on Tuesday to attend the ceremony marking the incident that killed five people of Turkish origin from the same family.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Heiko Maas will also attend, along with Mevlude Genc, 75, who lost two daughters, two granddaughters and a niece in the 1993 house fire caused by Neo-Nazis.


Sources with the Turkish foreign ministry confirmed to Al Jazeera that Cavusoglu will speak at the event. 

This is in contrast with German state media reports that said the foreign minister was banned from speaking at the commemoration.

German officials contacted by email and telephone did not immediately respond to questions.

Germany, the country with the largest Turkish expatriate population in Europe, announced it would ban gatherings of foreign politicians and their supporters within its borders in advance of the upcoming presidential and parliamentary polls in Turkey on June 24.

‘Germany takes sides’

Yasin Aktay, an adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said that German authorities allow opposition rallies within their borders, while banning those Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AK Party) wants to hold.

“This happened last year before the referendum as well. These moves show that Germany is taking sides in Turkish politics and take a stance with any party against Erdogan, regardless of who they are,” he told Al Jazeera.

“They unfairly blame Turkey for moving away from democratic principles. However, they bar our party and its supporters from expressing themselves.”

Along with Germany, European countries such as the Netherlands, Austria, and Denmark also banned Turkish ministers from holding rallies within their borders before an April 2017 constitutional referendum in Turkey. The Turkish government claims the ban was only valid for the AK Party.

Erdogan compared the ban on ministers to “Nazi practices” and called Dutch authorities “Nazi remnants” after they expelled a Turkish minister who was trying to organise a rally in the country.

The Turkish government denounced Germany on Sunday after it allowed a rally by the pro-Kurdish opposition People’s Democratic Party (HDP) in the city of Cologne. Ankara denounced the sight of flags of outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), seen as “terrorists” by Turkey, at the event.

Strained ties

There have been many strains in relations between Berlin and Ankara in recent years.

Turkey and Germany recently traded insults after German authorities criticised two German football players of Turkish descent for meeting and posing in photos with Erdogan in London earlier this month.

Germany and other Western European governments have repeatedly condemned the Turkish government’s detentions and civil service purges of tens of thousands of people after a failed coup attempt in July 2016. 

Erdogan’s government says the crackdown follows the rule of law and aims to remove coup supporters from state institutions.

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