Fierce critic Özdemir to attend Erdoğan state dinner in Germany
Cem Özdemir, one of the fiercest international critics of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, will attend a controversial state dinner arranged for Erdoğan’s visit to Germany, Deutsche Welle reported.
Özdemir, who is of Turkish descent and belongs to the Green Party, said he will not boycott the event, as some other opposition politicians have vowed to do.
Erdoğan, who visits Germany Sept. 27-29, “clearly does not deserve a state dinner” but Özdemir said he “will have to put up with me, who stands for criticism of his authoritarian policies.”
“Although he won’t like it, that’s how we do things here,” Özdemir said on Twitter. He added #freethemall to his tweet, a hashtag used to protest the imprisonment of journalists in Turkey and elsewhere. About 175 journalists are currently behind bars in Turkey on terrorism charges.
Özdemir warned Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government that any charm offensive should be motivated only by economic concerns. Turkey’s lira has plummeted against the dollar and euro this year and inflation has surged to almost 20 percent, risking a full-blown financial crisis.
“The German government will have to demonstrate that the German state and its rule of law will not tolerate his (Erdoğan’s) despotic behavior and that it is not acceptable for him to take his conflicts to Germany and set up a network of spies and informers,” he said.
Özdemir had to be given police protection at a conference in Munich in February when he stayed at the same hotel as a Turkish delegation.Özdemir was called a “terrorist” by some of the delegation’s members. Erdoğan’s government accuses him of links to armed Kurdish separatists in Turkey.
Protests at Erdoğan’s visit are expected across Germany, including in Cologne, where the Turkish president will open a mosque. The facility is affiliated with Ditib, a controversial Turkish state-sponsored Islamic organization that may be put on surveillance by Germany’s intelligence services.
Several lawmakers have turned down the invitation to the dinner, including the head of the business-friendly FDP, Christian Lindner, Green party chairpersons Annalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck and several politicians from the far-right AfD and Left parties.