German government disowns 'twisted' report on Turkey

German government says Turkey is a vital partner in fight against DAESH, dismissing an ARD report as having been written without the knowledge of the interior or the foreign minister.

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, shakes hands with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, prior to their meeting at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, on May 23, 2016.

The German government has distanced itself from a report on Turkey in which the country was described as a hub of militant groups. The leaked report was seen as an attempt to strain the relationship between the two nations.

German Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Sawsan Chebli cleared her government’s stance on the report. "On what has been published in the media, we do not share the assessment as a whole," she said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, accompanied by European Union Council President Donald Tusk, right, arrives for a visit at the Nizip refugee camp in Gaziantep province, south-eastern Turkey, on April 23, 2016.

Spokesman for the German Interior Ministry, Johannes Dimroth, said that the report was written by the deputy interior minister without the knowledge of the interior minister or foreign minister.

"Where people work, mistakes can happen," Dimroth said.

German government spokesman Steffen Seibert declined to comment on the report but he said that Berlin still viewed Ankara as a partner in the fight against the DAESH terrorist group. He said Turkey is also a key partner in efforts to deal with the refugee crisis.

Turkey and Germany have had some differences in recent months, just as the European Union has been trying to secure Turkey's help in tackling the influx of refugees to Europe, of which Germany has taken in the bulk.

The report, which was disclosed by German public broadcaster ARD, alleged that Turkey had become a hub for militant groups and that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had an "ideological affinity" to Hamas in Gaza, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and armed opposition groups in Syria.

Contrary to the Interior Ministry's statement, ARD claimed the report was confidential and commissioned by the Interior Ministry upon a parliamentary request from the leftist Linke party.

Speaking to German regional broadcaster Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg (rbb), German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere defended the report. "There's nothing to regret," he said when asked about the paper. However, he said the report showed one aspect of Turkey but that there were other aspects beyond that.

Turkey has refuted allegations in the report.

"The allegations are a new manifestation of the twisted mentality, which for some time has been trying to wear down our country, by targeting our president and government," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Earlier this year, a German television ZDF broadcast a satirical song about President Erdogan. After strong protests from Turkey, the German government allowed authorities to take legal action against Jan Böhmermann, the satirist who mocked the Turkish leader on television.

Thousands of people gathered in the German city of Cologne on July 31, 2016 for a demonstration against the failed coup in Turkey.

Another row followed weeks later when the German parliament passed a resolution that declared incidents that took place in eastern Anatolia in 1915, in which many Armenians died, was a genocide. In June, there was another, as yet unresolved rift when Turkey appeared to block a visit by German lawmakers to 250 German soldiers stationed at Incirlik air base in southern Turkey.

Turkey's Foreign Ministry said that there were some political circles in Germany known for their double-standard attitudes towards Turkey.

The statement said that Germany should be more supportive of Turkey in its fight against the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist group by the European Union, Turkey and the United States.

"As a country which sincerely fights against terror of every sort whatever its source, Turkey expects that its other partners and allies act in the same way."

TRTWorld and agencies