Erdoğan hosts Arsenal player Mesut Özil, fiancée at fast-breaking meal
Turkish-origin Arsenal midfielder Mesut Özil and his fiancee attended a fast-breaking meal hosted by Turkish President Recep Erdoğan at the Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul on Saturday, pro-government NTV reported.
The former German national team member, who made headlines last year when he quit the squad after being criticised for meeting the Turkish President, was joined by his fiancée and former Miss Turkey Amine Gülşe during the iftar dinner, where the couple sat next to Erdoğan.
The event, which also marked the 100th anniversary of the start of Turkey’s war of independence, was geared to youth, NTV said.
The 29-year-old football star, born in Germany to a family of Turkish origin, was accused of helping Erdoğan achieve a PR win ahead of Turkey’s June 24 parliamentary and presidential elections, when he posed for a photo with Turkey’s strongman in London, presenting him with a signed football jersey.
The incident took place at a time of heightened tensions between Berlin and Ankara.
German politicians, media and fans raised concerns over Özil’s loyalty to Germany's squad ahead of the World Cup in Russia, resulting in the Arsenal player calling it quits on the national team.
Around 1.2 million people in Germany with Turkish backgrounds were eligible to vote in the parliamentary and presidential elections, which ushered in a presidential system granting Erdoğan sweeping new executive powers.
The Turkish president has been invited to the wedding of Özil and Gülşe, set to take place in June in Istanbul.