German politician Cem Özdemir has slammed Turkey’s president, saying the country was turning into a “mini-Pakistan.” The German foreign office has warned of possible terror attacks on transport systems in Istanbul.
The co-chair of the Green party in Germany’s Bundestag, Cem Özdemir, issued strong words Wednesday against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, saying Turkey would be “plunged into chaos” under his leadership.
His comments followed Turkey’s retaliation against attacks on its soil by launching airstrikes against the “Islamic State” (“IS”) militant group in Syria, but also against the minority Kurdish militant group PKK’s headquarters in northern Iraq. A peace process to end some 30 years of deadly violence between the outlawed PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) and the Turkish government, which had been underway since 2013, was called off by Erdogan this week.
“We cannot look away when a country, which until yesterday wanted to join the EU, is transforming under Erdogan into a mini-Pakistan with an authoritarian ruler, right on the European border,” Özdemir, who was the first person of Turkish heritage to become a member of Germany’s parliament back in the 1990s, told the “Passauer Neuen Presse” newspaper.
According to Özdemir, the long-time Turkish leader had been turning a blind eye to “Islamic State” and Turkey’s actions against the group were merely symbolic.
“It’s to deceive us in the West. Hardly any positions from ISIS are being attacked and relatively few ISIS supporters have been arrested,” he said, using an alternative name for IS.
Travelers urged to be vigilant
Meanwhile, the German government has warned its citizens of an increased risk of terror attacks in Turkey, especially in the city of Istanbul, in the wake of Ankara’s assault. The foreign office has updated its advice to citizens planning to travel there and is urging them to monitor the situation carefully.
“There could be increased attack activity by the PKK,” the foreign ministry said in a statement on its website.
“Beyond that there are indications of possible attacks on the underground rail network and bus stops in Istanbul,” the ministry added.
Data from Turkey’s tourism ministry, released Wednesday, showed the number of foreign visitors fell by 2.25 percent during the first six months of this year, news agency Reuters reported. During that time 14.89 million people visited Turkey.
Germany is a NATO partner of Turkey and home to about 3 million people of Turkish origin.
se/kms (Reuters, dpa, AFP)