By Muriel Mirak-Weissbach
Special to the Mirror-Spectator
BERLIN — January 1 is always a good time for pledging better behavior. It is a time for political leaders to reflect on the outgoing year and project plans for the immediate future. Turkey was no exception. In his New Year’s Eve address, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that after a hard year, he was looking forward to being a friend of Europe again. His country would like to minimize the number of its enemies and increase the number of its friends, he said. There were actually no problems, he continued, with European countries, like Germany or the Netherlands; indeed they were old friends.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu flanked the president’s pronouncements with a guest editorial to the Funke media group. After having experienced a difficult year, he wrote, both Germany and Turkey should seek a new beginning in relations which had gone on “for 300 years in friendship and cooperation.” This, he continued, could occur “only if we break through the current spiral of crisis.” Identifying four preconditions for this, as summarized in the Turkish wire service TRT, he said the two must relate as equal partners, and Germany should recognize the progress Turkey has made over 15 years. The political dialogue, he suggested, should take place at the highest level “in trust and, if necessary, through informal back channels.” Instead of “megaphone diplomacy,” and “avoiding populist, egocentric and short sighted internal political aims,” the dialogue should be pragmatic. What was required was a “language of empathy” for the other side. Germany, he wrote, had “not fully realized” the “trauma for the Turkish population” created by the coup attempt in 2016. Turkey would expect Germany to adopt a “determined attitude” towards the Gülen movement and the PKK.
Echoing Erdogan’s expressed desire for winning friends, Çavusoglu pledged that if Germany took one step in the direction of Turkey, his country would take two steps towards Germany.
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