Turkey - 'rising xenophobia' in Europe

2013-05-12 21:53
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar (L) Salehi with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. (AP)

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar (L) Salehi with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. (AP)

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Berlin - Turkey's foreign minister voiced concern on Sunday about rising anti-foreigner sentiment in crisis-hit Europe, on a visit to Germany where a neo-Nazi cell's bloody murder spree claimed mostly Turkish migrants among its victims.

"We, as Turkey, are concerned with rising xenophobia and right-wing sentiments after the economic crisis in Europe," said Ahmet Davutoglu, who had met relatives of those killed by the self-styled National Socialist Underground earlier on his trip.

"The EU started as a peace project, but the developments in recent years are a source of concern for all of us," Davutoglu told a joint press conference with German counterpart Guido Westerwelle.

The ministers had met to launch a strategic dialogue between Turkey, a rising economic power and regional player, and Germany, home to some three million ethnic Turks.

Some Turks in Germany complain of discrimination and racism, highlighted by the neo-Nazi murder spree from 2000 to 2007 and the way police, media and the courts dealt with it.

Investigators and newspapers had for years dubbed the 10 killings the "doner [kebab] murders". The main suspects were Turkish gangsters, and suspicion turned on some of the bereaved family members of the eight Turkish men killed.

The damage was compounded when a Munich court trying the surviving member, Beate Zschaepe, this year failed to guarantee reserved seats for Turkish journalists under a first come-first served system that was later revised.

Davutoglu also criticised the "arrogant attitude" of Zschaepe, dubbed the "Nazi broad" by German media, in court last week, which he said had affected the psychology of the families.

He said Turkey wants not just a few people to be punished but the collapse of a far-right "network which threatens the future of Europe".

50 years of Turkish migration

In a joint article in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung weekly, the ministers said that mutual respect and understanding "must not be threatened by extremists on the margins of society".

They declared that "after more than 50 years of Turkish migration, we find that harmony and peace are the main characteristics of the Turkish community in Germany".

Westerwelle and Davutoglu also agreed that talks should resume quickly on Turkey's bid to join the European Union.

Ankara has recently warned it may look beyond crisis-hit Europe for new economic partners, for example to China.

The ministers wrote that they wanted "new momentum" in EU accession talks for the majority-Muslim country, citing "major progress" it had made in promoting democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

Davutoglu said: "There has been stagnation in Turkish-EU relations. Hopefully we will open a new chapter, but spring doesn't come with one flower".

The parliamentary leader of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats, Volker Kauder, quickly released a statement on Sunday demanding that Turkey "must once and for all guarantee religious freedom" if wanted to join the EU.

Read more on:    ahmet davutoglu  |  germany  |  turkey  |  xenophobia

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