Cem Özdemir, who is of Turkish descent and currently serves as Germany’s agriculture minister, has in an interview with the T24 news website criticized Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s recent statements that Hamas is not a terrorist organization, calling Turkey’s position “unacceptable.”
Hamas militants staged a surprise attack on Oct. 7, during which they killed 1,400 people — mostly civilians — and seized more than 220 hostages.
The Hamas-controlled health ministry in Gaza has said Israeli strikes have killed more than 8,000 people — also mainly civilians — with more than 3,500 of them children.
In a move that attracted harsh criticism from Israel and some Western capitals, Erdoğan said last week that Hamas is not a terrorist organization, describing its militants as “liberators” fighting for their land and people.
Özdemir, Germany’s second-ever minister of Turkish origin, said that for Germany, Hamas is unequivocally a terrorist organization.
He emphasized the inconsistency in Turkey’s approach to terrorist organizations.
“Turkey frequently reminds Europe that the PKK [outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party] is a terrorist organization. However, it says different things about Hamas, which is not convincing,” he said.
The minister further elaborated on the actions of Hamas in the Palestinian enclave of Gaza, stating that the group holds the local population hostage and uses civilians as human shields. “Fighting against terrorism is Israel’s right, and we fully support that right,” Özdemir added.
He also criticized Hamas for its lack of constructive policies in Gaza. According to Özdemir, instead of developing tourism or focusing on policies that benefit the people, Hamas has been digging tunnels and launching unilateral attacks on Israel since the latter withdrew from Gaza in 2005.
Özdemir is a senior member of Germany’s Green Party and is known for his harsh criticism of Erdoğan’s autocratic rule at home and activities in Europe.
Germany has a total population of just over 83 million, of which more than 3 million have Turkish roots, constituting the largest Turkish community outside Turkey.