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September 11, 2017

Turkey issues travel warning for visitors to Germany

When German citizens were arrested on trumped-up charges in Turkey, the German foreign ministry was not willing to issue an official travel warning. Turkey, by contrast, has no such qualms, and has now itself issued an official travel warning to its citizens visiting Germany citing anti-Turkish sentiment and racism in Germany. 

This has caught the political elite in Berlin by surprise. Angela Merkel made the point that, unlike Turkey, Germany is not arresting foreign journalists. She said on German TV that eleven German citizens were unjustly incarcerated in Turkey. There were similar howls of protests from other German political leaders, including Martin Schulz. 

The Turkish foreign ministry warned that Turkish citizens should stay away from political meetings or from engaging in political discussions in Germany, because they could expect xenophobic and racist treatment and verbal attacks. Turkish citizens were also warned to stay away from demonstrations organised by terror organisations, and that are either supported or tolerated by the German government. The ministry also claims that Turkish citizens face discriminatory treatment at the immigration controls of German airports.

Having followed the German-Turkish dispute for some time, we have concluded that Germany - and Merkel in particular - do not have the stomach for a show-down. A travel warning on the part of Germany would not have only been justified, but required since German citizens are facing political persecution. If they cannot issue a travel warning in such a case, when will they do it? The reason, we suspect, is that the German government does not want to risk the sordid money-for-refugees deal they struck with Erdogan, nor to endanger the strong commercial relations between the two countries. Germany's obscene trade surplus restricts its freedom of manoeuvre on foreign policy, because there are always commercial interest that speak against taking any action.

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September 11, 2017

How nasty is the AfD?

The AfD party's trick has been to portray itself as a democratic and modern party of the right, while simultaneously tolerating the most extreme right-wingers, including neo-Nazis, as members. But the façade of modernity is now crumbling. Its two leading candidates have both been hit by scandals that reveal them as true racists. Alexander Gauland effectively issued a death treat to a Turkish-born junior minister, Aydan Özoguz, when he said that if the AfD came to power, she would be "disposed of". And now Die Welt has put together a disturbing story about the other co-leader, Alice Weidel, by digging up an old email written to a friend in which she said (our translation)

"The reason why we are swamped by alien cultures like Arabs, Sinti and Roma, is the systematic destruction of the civil society as a potential counterweight by the enemies of the constitution who are governing us."

Weidel denies being the author of those lines, but Die Welt insists that the email is authentic and has secured depositions under oath by the recipient and former associates. 

The email stems from 2013, at a time when she was not yet a member of the AfD. The email also describes Angela Merkel as a puppet of the victors of World War II, with a job to keep the German people subdued and produce "molecular civil wars" that would swamp Germany with refugees.

The paper quotes former friends of Weidel, who have concluded that she has turned so much to the right that the AfD is becoming a dangerous party.

Formally, Frauke Petry is still the official party leader, but Gauland and Weidel are the top team for the parliamentary elections. If the AfD manages to get over the 5% mark for entry into the Bundestag, the two will become the party's parliamentary leaders. Polls are putting the party at around 10% at the moment.

Der Spiegel also has an intriguing report on the support enjoyed by the AfD among Russian immigrants. The AfD differentiates between immigrants with a darker skin colour, and immigrants from Russia whom they regard as Germans coming back to Germany. This is a large community, which traditionally voted CDU/CSU.

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