Erdogan urges Turks in Germany to vote for AK Party

COLOGNE: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently paid his first visit as president to Germany in an effort to drum up votes for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in Turkey´s upcoming general election, which is already under way for Turkish citizens living abroad across much of Europe.

In a speech in Karlsruhe on Sunday, Erdogan again revealed his bias for the AK Party, a party he co-founded by and that has governed Turkey since 2002, even though as the head of state he is supposed to stay outside party politics.

Criticizing the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Which has great deal of support from ethnic Kurds in Germany, Erdogan urged Turkish nationals across Germany not to believe the HDP, reflecting the AK Party’s desire to prevent the HDP from passing the 10 percent threshold needed secure representation in Parliament. “Their love is fake; don’t believe it. They cannot love… Can those who kill people feel love?” Erdogan said, drawing a connection between the HDP and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

“We don’t have to take part in this game. We will remain hand in hand; we will stand shoulder to shoulder and we will not forget our one nation, our one flag, our one nation, our one state. We’ll continue forward like this. Can they say one nation, one flag or one state? The answer to those who cannot say these things should be given by my brothers and sisters in Europe on June 7,” Erdogan said.

The prospect of the HDP, which has widespread support among middle-class Kurds in Turkey who have in recent elections backed the AK Party, crossing the 10 percent threshold and entering Parliament is the main obstacle that could prevent the AK Party from obtaining the two-thirds parliamentary majority it needs to unilaterally change the Constitution.

Erdogan delivered his speech in a meeting of ´´Youth Meeting´´, while a group of HDP supporters staged a protest against the AK Party and Erdogan in front of the meeting hall, with hundreds of people chanting slogans in support of the HDP. However, German police intervened and sent the group away from the front of the hall.

Approximately 1.5 million citizens of the Republic of Turkey live in Germany, according to official records. After speaking in Germany, Erdogan is set to travel to Belgium for another speaking engagement, amid rising criticism by opposition parties in Turkey who claim that Erdogan is ignoring the constitutional impartiality of the Turkish presidency and participating in the election campaign of the AK Party.

There are 6.5 million Turkish citizens living abroad who are eligible to vote and Erdogan hs said that this number is equal to roughly six metropolitan cities in Turkey. “A party that does not address these voters sacrifices the equivalent of six metropolitan cities in Turkey. No politician or party has such a luxury,” Erdogan said adding, “I ask you to use this chance in the best possible way. Fill the ballot boxes in Europe and Germany with your love and ambition.”

Erdogan´s speech was expected to top Turkey´s Armenian issue that has made headlines in Turkish and German political agenda two weeks ago with President Joachim Gauck´s statement labeling 1915 events and killings and displacement of Armenians by Ottoman forces and also the far-right German group of National Socialist Underground (NSU) that caused the murder of 10 people, eight of them Turkish immigrants. Though Erdogan did not mention any of these issues but mainly focused on calling for Turkish citizens to be active in the June 7 parliamentary election.