German, Turkish officials condemn xenophobia at Solingen commemoration

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DUSSELDORF, GERMANY - MAY 29: Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (L) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) hold a visit for Turkish family Genc, whose five members of a Turkish family were killed by far-right extremists at the state chancellery of North Rhine-Westphalia, in Dusseldorf, Germany on May 29, 2018. Cem Ozdel / Anadolu Agency

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu jointly condemned xenophobia at the 25th anniversary commemoration of a firebombing by right-wing extremists in which five Turks were killed in the German city of Solingen, the Hürriyet Daily News reported.

The May 29, 1993 firebombing was the deadliest in a series of racist attacks that raised international concerns following German unification in 1990. Two Turkish women and three girls died when a fire raged through their apartment building.

Merkel told those gathered, including Mevlude Genç, a survivor and family member of the women and girls who perished, that xenophobia, racism and anti-Semitism had no place in Germany or anywhere else in the world.

Merkel thanked Genç for “responding with great humanity” to what was an “inhumane act” and also expressed her wish for “those who come to Germany to feel safe and at home.”

Çavuşoğlu voiced concern that “racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia are on the rise” again in the EU’s biggest country and called on politicians and media there to “use prudent language.”

“Our duty is to draw lessons from this tragedy and stand united against racism. We need to take effective measures against racism in order to prevent the repetition of such an incident in the future,” Çavuşoğlu said.

Referring to Turks living in Germany, Çavuşoğlu said, “The only expectation of those people who see Germany as their second homeland is to live as equal members of this community.”

Çavuşoğlu thanked Merkel for her anti-racism stance and said, “We, as Turkey, are ready to lend every kind of support to you.”

Maas called for stronger efforts against xenophobia and discrimination.

“[The Solingen arson attack] was an attack against all of us, against our values and peaceful coexistence,” Maas told the Funke media group on Tuesday.

“It’s a shame that many people whose parents, grandparents or they themselves came from Turkey to Germany still experience discrimination in their daily lives.”

Çavuşoğlu’s visit to Germany to attend the Solingen commemoration came amid a recent spat between Turkey and Germany after the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which the Turkish government accuses of being a political front for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), held a rally in Cologne on May 26.

However, in a sign that Germany may be seeking to improve ties with Turkey, Merkel on Tuesday invited President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to Germany.

“Merkel is waiting for a visit from Erdoğan following Turkey’s presidential and general elections on June 24,” Çavuşoğlu told reporters.

Turkey and Germany were also set to hold political consultations on the day of Çavuşoğlu’s visit to Solingen.

In a written statement the Turkish Foreign Ministry had announced that political consultations would be held under the co-chairmanship of the ministry’s Undersecretary Ümit Yalçın and German State Secretary Andreas Michaelis in Ankara on May 29.

“During the consultations, bilateral relations between the two countries as well as regional and global issues of common interest will be discussed,” said the statement.

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