Erdoğan's Germany visit: From a charm offensive to offense - NYT

Considering Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Germany visit, he was on a charm offensive, but the situation changed within the 24 hours turning him to more offensive than charming, columnist Katrin Bennhold wrote to the New York Times newspaper on Sunday. 

"Mr Erdogan was on a charm offensive, Germans seemed to agree that, after just 24 hours in Berlin, it was more offensive than charm."

The first thing Erdoğan did in Germany was to salute as flashing his four finger which symbolises the Muslim Brotherhood in central Berlin on Sept. 28, Bennhold said, adding "(Erdoğan) demanded the extradition of 69 Turkish exiles in Germany, among them journalists and lawyers investigating Mr. Erdogan’s government and risking prison at home." 

"Chancellor Angela Merkel was not impressed," Bennhold stated, saying in the joint press conference, Merkel was stressing the “deep-seated differences” between the two countries regarding press freedom and the rule of law and she demanded the release of several political prisoners held in Turkey — including five German citizens. 

Erdogan has been trying to ease the tension as changing his previous anti-Western rhetoric while Turkey has been experiencing the worst economic crisis in the country in the last 15 years and looking for partners to solve it, Bennhold implied. 

Only a year ago, Erdoğan called the German government “enemies of Turkey.” Turkish officials accused Berlin of deploying Nazi tactics, and Turkish newspapers called German companies in Turkey spies.

Erdoğan's attitude seems to change relatively, Bennhold stated, “We want to leave behind all the problems completely and to create a warm environment between Turkey and Germany — just like it used to be,” quoting the president.

However, the Turkish leader had toned up again over the debates of exiled journalist Can Dündar had accredited to the joint press conference as threatening to call off the event. 

Also, in the conference, Erdogan's security personnel removed a photographer in the front row slipped on a T-shirt with a message of support for journalists jailed in Turkey which made the president satisfied, Bennhold said. 

German media, politicians and Turkish opposition living in Germany have been criticising Erdoğan's visit and Germany's hosting a 'dictator' during the visit, Bennhold stressed. 

Merkel and Erdogan tried to seem agreed on the economic and diplomatic issues during the Turkish president's visit; however, the German side seemed regretful to host even while they were trying to hide their feelings, according to the columnist.

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