There has been a long history between Germany and Turkey. Germany has been a target for Turkish immigration for years due to its open borders and strong economy, and there are a huge number of German-Turks, who came over after the war and have been living in Germany their entire lives.
Events recently came to a head about the head of the green party in the German government, Cem Özdemir. Mr. Özdemir is a German lawmaker of Turkish descent, and has been under fire from the Turkish community due to his support of a resolution about the Armenian genocide. Turkey has always been insistent that there was no major wrong-doing during the events of 1915, and regardless, the Republic of Turkey did not exist at the time, so Turkey refuses to acknowledge the genocide.
The Turkish people have been extremely quick to turn on their brother, with the President of Turkey, Mr Erdogan, even commenting. Erdogan said that these lawmakers are “perverse”, and for those who claim to have Turkish roots, Erdogan thought they should “have their blood laboratory tested…as no one, in whose veins the blood of this nation flows, can accuse this nation of so-called genocide.” The Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ said “People with so tainted breast milk, with so tainted blood can never represent the Turkish nation.”
More than just political figures attacked the German lawmaker. The village where he is from, The Pazar district in northern Tokat, held a meeting and “no longer recognizes” the fact that Mr Özdemir is from their region. This shows clearly how divisive this issue is, as the Turkish state and many of its citizens believe accepting the Armenian Gencoide as a direct attack on them, and they seem to be willing to fight hard against the movement to recognize the genocide. This is further supported because in the same meeting to disavow Mr Özdemir, the district made Bettina Kudla, the only German lawmaker to vote against the resolution, an “honorary countrywoman”.
Memiş Hoca Memişce, a personality in Turkey who writes a lot of editorials said “In general, we have always been looking out for the enemy to our country, but also a very real enemies of Turkey within us.”, speaking specifically about the German lawmakers who are of Turkish descent who voted for the resolution.
The German lawmaker Cem Özdemir has been given police protection because he has received numerous death threats, and the police fear for the safety of this government minister.
The Bundestag (German government) President Norbert Lammert spoke on this issue, saying “The fact that a democratically elected President in the 21st Century would critique elected members of the German Bundestag, doubting their Turkish origin, referring to their blood as ‘tainted’, I would have never thought this was possible. And I wholly reject the claim that members of Parliament are ‘mouthpieces of terrorists'”.
This diplomatic row is heating up quickly, and it calls into question much of the relationship between Turkey and the EU, which has been going back and forth consistently lately over crude humor, refugee deals, and NATO presence. But maybe this is a good thing, because getting into bed with a country like Turkey may be the most convenient solution, but it isn’t always the best solution.