Opposition Green party politician Cem Özdemir, who is of Turkish descent and has repeatedly slammed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s policies, is to attend a state dinner for Erdoğan to send a “signal” to Turkey and Germany’s large Turkish community, Deutsche Welle reported.
“The opposition belongs to politics in this country. We’re an integral part of our democracy,” he told the German Tagesspiegel daily.
He stressed that Erdoğan “clearly does not deserve a state dinner” but that the president “will have to put up with me, who stands for criticism of his authoritarian politics.”
Özdemir said in July that Erdoğan was “not a normal president in a democracy” and should not be granted a full-blown state visit.
On Twitter he added that “although he won’t like it, that’s how we do things here.” He added #freethemall to his tweet, a hashtag used to protest the imprisonment of journalists in Turkey and elsewhere.
He warned the German government that any charm offensive by Erdoğan when he visits Germany from Sept. 27-29 would be motivated solely by economic concerns. The Turkish economy is suffering from high inflation and the plunging lira, which is hitting business confidence.
“The German government will have to demonstrate that the German state and its rule of law will not tolerate his despotic behavior and that it is not acceptable for him to bring his conflicts to Germany and set up a network of spies and informers,” he said.
Özdemir is well known to the Turkish establishment. At the Munich Security Conference in February, while staying in the same hotel as the Turkish delegation, Özdemir was called a “terrorist” by some members of the delegation and had to be given police protection.
Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) accuses Özdemir of links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), considered a terrorist group in Turkey.
A state visit is routinely granted to heads of states, involving military honors and a state dinner. However, many in Germany feel Erdoğan should only have been granted a working visit because of his increasingly authoritarian rule back home and for what many perceive as his detrimental influence on Germany’s Turkish community — the biggest Turkish diaspora in Europe.
Large protests are expected in various German cities, among them Cologne. Erdoğan is due in the city to attend the opening ceremony for a mosque affiliated with DİTİB, the controversial Turkish-Islamic Union with close ties to Ankara. Germany’s domestic intelligence service is mulling putting the organization under surveillance.
Several lawmakers have declined the invitation for dinner, among them the head of the business-friendly FDP, Christian Lindner, and Green party chairs Annalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck as well as several politicians from the far-right AfD and the Left party.