Germany upset over results of Turkish referendum
Close victory of supporters of the constitutional amendments in Turkey, still challenged by the Turkish opposition forces, has become the most discussed political event in the German press.
First of all, Germans were surprised and upset over the fact that so many German Turks have supported President Erdogan, who publicly accused Chancellor Angela Merkel (and the entire Europe after that) of being Nazis. Despite Berlin's and other European capitals' powerful and harsh criticism of the Turkish President (possibly thanks to it), Recep Tayyip Erdogan was able to realize what he had planned. 63% of German Turks who voted in the referendum supported the constitutional amendments. In other words, the level of support of Germany's Turkish Diaspora was higher than in any other country. "Another proof of failure of our integration policy," German journalists bitterly noted.
Review of the reactions of famous German politicians shows a high level of frustration and concern. "Right now we should remain calm and act carefully. It's good that such a fierce electoral struggle, including in Germany, is finally over," German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said, without directly mentioning the results of this referendum.
Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed Germany's position more explicitly: "Such small difference in votes shows how deeply Turkish society is divided. This means that Turkish leadership and President Erdogan personally bear a great responsibility. The German government expects that after a tough voting, the Turkish government will now seek a dialogue built on respect with all political and public forces of the country."
Influential politicians who don't have governmental functions and, accordingly, are not limited by state responsibility, were more harsh and open in their assessments. "This is a bad result for both Europe and Turkey. Erdogan has turned his back on a pan-European consensus. Separation of branches of power in Turkey has practically been eliminated," chairman of the Social Democrats faction in the Bundestag Thomas Oppermann said.
Leader of the Social Democrats and Merkel's main competitor for the post of next Chancellor, Martin Schulz, hinted at the lack of convincingness of Erdogan's victory: "Minimal difference in votes shows: Erdogan is not Turkey. The fight for democracy and human rights must continue."
Some high-ranking members of the main government party (CDU) openly say that Turkey is sliding to the dictatorship. Julia Klockner, vice-chairman of the CDU, made the following forecast: "Now Erdogan will replace the system in his country until he establishes an autocratic regime - dictatorship."
Chairman of the Foreign Policy Committee of the European Parliament, Elmar Brok, commenting on the possibility of introducing death penalty in Turkey, which Erdogan mentioned, in an interview with "Die Welt", said: "In any case, after that, there can be no more negotiations on the accession. Turkey's accession to the EU will fail." Head of the conservative faction of the European Parliament Manfred Weber also called for finally shutting down the negotiation process regarding Turkey's membership in the EU.
Deputy chairperson of the Left Party of the Bundestag, Sahra Wagenknecht, noted that "using manipulations, Erdogan managed to reach the majority who supported the dictatorship." Christian Lindner, leader of the liberal party Free Democratic Party of Germany, called the referendum "a dark day for Turkey," because "its results confirmed fears that Turkey is moving towards a dictatorship." Leading functionaries of the Green Party also called for development of a new position on Turkey and stressed that the country's membership in the EU under President Erdogan can no longer be discussed.
All traditional parties of the German political establishment unanimously opposed the political outcome of the referendum. It should be noted, however, that no German political force has questioned the outcome of voting itself. There is also no hint that they want to demand a recount of votes or accuse Erdogan of falsifications - despite the fact that the Turkish opposition insists on it now. The fact that Germany's criticism, directed against Erdogan, is limited only to upset rhetoric and doesn't suggest any specific initiatives, shows one thing: Europe is ready and will cooperate with the Turkish President, but both sides already realize how difficult this cooperation will be.