Merkel attacks Turkey’s ‘misuse’ of Interpol warrants

German Chancellor Angela Merkel criticised the misuse of Interpol warrants by Turkey. [Reuters]

German Chancellor Angela Merkel criticised Turkey’s use of an Interpol arrest warrant to detain a German writer in Spain, telling an election town hall event on Sunday (20 August) that this amounted to abuse of the international police agency.

Doğan Akhanlı was stopped in Spain on Saturday after Ankara issued a “red notice”. The German-Turkish writer was released on Sunday but must remain in Madrid while Spain assesses Turkey’s extradition request.

“It is not right and I’m very glad that Spain has now released him,” Merkel said. “We must not misuse international organisations like Interpol for such purposes.”

Relations between Turkey and the European Union have been under growing strain since last year’s failed military coup in Turkey. European-Turkish nationals are among the 50,000 people detained since then in what critics condemn as an indiscriminate crackdown by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Merkel has been more muted in her criticism of Erdoğan than other German politicians, with critics charging her with being beholden to Erdoğan because of Turkey’s role as a buffer against a renewed flood of Syrian war refugees arriving in Europe.

Erdogan told Merkel of anger over asylum for 'putschists'

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told Angela Merkel of his displeasure over Germany’s reportedly giving asylum to troops accused of links to last year’s failed coup, he said in an interview published Saturday (27 May).

“(Doğan’s) is one of many cases, unfortunately,” Merkel said, in a sharpening of her tone toward Ankara. “That’s why we have massively changed our Turkish policy recently … because it’s quite unacceptable that Erdoğan does this.”

On Saturday Erdoğan urged Turks in Germany to “teach a lesson” to Germany’s “anti-Turkish” mainstream parties in next month’s parliamentary election, despite German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel’s warning he should keep out of German politics.

Erdogan tells Turks in Germany to vote against Merkel

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Friday (18 August) said German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats were enemies of Turkey and called on Turks in Germany to vote against major parties in next month’s elections.

“Who are you to talk to the president of Turkey? Talk to Turkey’s foreign minister. Know your place,” Erdoğan said at a rally for his AK Party in the southwestern province of Denizli.

European countries with large Turkish diasporas have grown increasingly uneasy at what they see as Ankara’s attempts to use ethnic Turkish populations to influence domestic politics.

“President Erdoğan is trying to instrumentalise ethnic Turkish communities, especially in German and Austria,” Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz told Die Welt newspaper. “He polarises and brings Turkish conflicts into the EU.”

Austria bars Turkish economy minister for event marking coup anniversary

Austria has barred Turkish Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci from entering the country to attend an event marking the anniversary of last year’s failed coup in Turkey, a spokesman for Austria’s foreign ministry said today (10 July).

The final days before elections in the Netherlands this year were overshadowed by violent protests by local affiliates of Erdoğan’s party. German security officials have expressed concern about a possible repetition in Germany.

Turkey suspends top-level ties with Netherlands in escalating crisis

Turkey on Monday (13 March) said it was suspending top-level ties with The Netherlands and blocking the return of its ambassador in a spiralling crisis over the holding of rallies abroad ahead of a crucial referendum.

Interpol did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Merkel’s remarks.