GuNAY HILAL – German president emerging as ErdoIan’s new ‘target’

German president emerging as ErdoIan’s new ‘target’German president Joachim Gauck paid a visit to Turkey on Monday, during which he directed criticism at the government over its latest violations of basic rights in the country. With respect to Internet censorship, the government’s control over the judiciary and the newly adopted law granting broad powers to the National Intelligence Organization (MIT), Gauck said that he is “horrified,” while delivering a speech at Ankara’s prestigious Middle East Technical University (ODTu). “Don’t take my statements as interference into your domestic affairs,” he added, saying that his remarks are aimed at sharing his concerns as a citizen of a democratic nation. However, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip ErdoIan was apparently very offended by Gauck’s statement, saying on Tuesday that Gauck does not act like a statesman, probably because he still thinks of himself as a pastor — a reference to Gauck’s former occupation — and that he should keep his aice to himself.According to Mehmet Tezkan, a columnist with the Milliyet daily, Gauck seems to be the new “target” of Prime Minister ErdoIan, following Constitutional Court President HaIim KIlIç, who has been slammed by ErdoIan over the past few weeks for the top court’s annulment of a government-drafted law and overruling of the two-week-long Twitter ban. Government dailies and their columnists have already started lashing out at the German president, Tezkan wrote. “Well, what did the visiting president say? He has not really said anything, he simply asked questions, such as ‘Do Twitter and YouTube need to be banned?’ ‘Why did the head of the Constitutional Court speak so strongly?’ and ‘Why does the government use force on the media?’ Oh yes, he also said that the rule of law is under threat in Turkey,” Tezkan said, adding that the Turkish nation is also curious about the answers to these questions. Tezkan stated that Gauck did not only criticize the government, but also directed criticism at the opposition. Tezkan quoted Gauck as reportedly addressing Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal KIlIçdaroIlu, saying: “You are perceived to be inadequate as the main opposition party. And it is claimed that this is the reason why the government is so powerful. Do you agree?” According to Tezkan, the CHP leader replied to Gauck’s question saying, “Our party is 90 years old. We are in a period of transition. Of course we have inadequacies, but we are working on them.” Gauck then responded to KIlIçdaroIlu by saying that his Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) is 150 years old, Tezkan wrote. However, Tezkan added, the CHP leader did not accuse Gauck of interfering in the party’s internal affairs.Hurriyet daily columnist YalçIn DoIan wrote in his Wednesday piece that a month ago, the German media referred to Gauck’s planned Turkey visit as a “tough visit for freedom lover.” DoIan stated that Gauck’s messages to Turkey during Monday’s visit had already been heard, because the German leader expressed his concerns regarding the latest developments in Turkey in mid-March during a dinner in Berlin with foreign journalists. DoIan also pointed out that Gauck was born in East Germany and he witnessed the occupation of the Soviet Union and the dictatorship in East Germany. Gauck has won various human rights prizes, DoIan said, commenting that Gauck’s passion for freedom stems from his roots. The columnist added that ErdoIan’s meetings with top foreign officials over the last few months have all been tense, including his talks with US President Barack Obama and meetings in Brussels with EU officials in Januar

SOURCE: Todays Zaman