Turkiye’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said his country can freely criticise Israel’s atrocities in Gaza because Turkiye was not historically involved in the holocaust, unlike Germany which feels a historical guilt and overcompensates because of its involvement.
Speaking at a joint news conference in the German capital Berlin on Friday with chancellor Olaf Scholz, Erdogan stated that “the Israeli-Palestinian war should not be evaluated with a psychology of indebtedness. I speak freely because we [Turks] do not owe anything to Israel”.
In comparison, he said, “those who feel indebted to Israel cannot speak freely. We did not go through the Holocaust process, we don’t have such a situation, because our respect for humanity is different”.
Peak Erdogan, telling German media in Berlin right next to Scholz that Turkey hasn’t partaken in holocaust and it isn’t indebted to Israel, so he could freely speak about the Gaza atrocities pic.twitter.com/MQ6O1LHbpq
— Ragıp Soylu (@ragipsoylu) November 17, 2023
The Turkish president’s comments came at a time of tension between Ankara and Berlin regarding Israel’s ongoing invasion and bombardment of the besieged Gaza Strip, which has killed over 12,000 Palestinians – the vast majority of whom were civilians – since 7 October.
Turkiye has condemned Israel over the atrocities and has repeatedly called for a ceasefire, as well as attempting to conduct some mediation efforts, but Germany has persisted in its support for Israel’s actions while expressing its concerns over the targeting of Gaza’s civilians.
Due to the previous Nazi government’s orchestration of the holocaust and the killing of millions of Jews, successive German governments have seen it as a ‘state responsibility’ to ensure the protection of Jews, which to them also means unconditionally supporting Israel regardless of its actions.
While Scholz did not respond directly to Erdogan’s comments, he stated that “If you know Germany, you know that our solidarity with Israel is beyond all question”. The chancellor also reiterated that his government’s belief that “Israel has the right to defend itself. At the same time all lives are equally precious and the suffering in Gaza distresses us.”
Although that issue came to dominate Erdogan’s visit to Berlin and his talks with Scholz in the media limelight, one of the primary topics of the occasion was the potential sale of 40 Eurofighter jets to Ankara, which has long been on the table.
In order for Turkiye to acquire them, the approval of Germany is first needed as the country is a member of the British-French-Spanish consortium that produces the jets.
Scholz declined to respond to a question on whether he would approve the sale, however, with Erdogan stating during the press conference that “it doesn’t matter if Germany gives us fighter jets or not. There are many countries that produce them…Turkiye is a leading country in the unmanned fighter jet sector.