While Merkel won’t condemn Erdogan strongly because they need to work together on the refugee crisis, a leaked document shows the German government’s real opinion on Turkey.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s relationship with Turkey is at risk after a confidential German government document was leaked which said Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan supports radical Islamic groups.

  • Merkel relies on her relationship with Erdogan to manage the refugee situation in Europe.
  • Once the crisis started and she saw a need to slow the flow of refugees into Europe, Merkel warmed up to the authoritarian Erdogan and made a deal with them which included EU accession talks and visa free travel in exchange for their assistance.
  • She has been criticized for making concessions to maintain this very necessary relationship in the past, including for not sufficiently condemning Erdogan for his post-coup crackdown in July which saw over 20,000 arrested.

So, if the German government believes so clearly that Turkey backs radical groups, how can Merkel keep her criticism of Erdogan quiet? This leak complicates Merkel’s ability to work with Turkey effectively without causing political issues for herself in Europe.

  • The document that was leaked was a confidential parliamentary letter from the interior ministry to the Left party.
  • The opposition Left party is known for criticizing Merkel’s position on Turkey.
  • According to the document, the German government sees Turkey as “the central action platform for Islamist groups” in the near and Middle East.
  • The information in the document is no surprise, as Erdogan often expresses his sympathy for Islamist groups.
  • The document from the interior ministry shows the German government clearly views Turkey as engaging in condemnable behavior, but Merkel refuses to strongly condemn Erdogan. Instead, she keeps working with him, because she must do so to manage the refugee crisis.

The document is based off of information from the secret services and accuses the Turkish government, Erdogan and his AK Party specifically, of supporting radical Islamist organizations. In particular, opposition groups in Syria, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

Despite apparently supporting Israel’s enemy and EU-declared terrorist group Hamas, the Turkish military is still using Israeli-made drones to attack the PKK. Despite Turkey being the first Muslim majority country to recognize Israel, they have had strained relations since the Gaza War. On June 27th, they have finally reached an agreement to normalize relations.

The German interior ministry and the foreign ministry have not commented on the leak because they were classified as confidential prior to being leaked.

The opposition Left party, as expected, criticized the hypocritical relationship between Germany and Turkey. Their spokeswoman Sevim Dagdelen said, “You can’t treat Mr Erdogan as a prime partner for Germany, the EU and Nato when at the same time you describe him — in internal documents — as the hub of Islamism and a supporter of Islamist terror.”