A leaked confidential report from the German government has accused Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government of deliberately supporting and financing Islamist organizations across the Middle East, such as those fighting in Syria.
The report written by the Interior Ministry arose in response to Die Linke’s (the Left Party) confidential request in the German Parliament (Bundestag). It was leaked to German public broadcaster ARD and the document was aired by the channel on Tuesday.
ARD said the document was the first official assessment linking Erdogan’s government to support for Islamist groups.
“The many expressions of solidarity and support actions by the ruling AKP and President Erdogan for the Egyptian MB (Muslim Brotherhood), Hamas and groups of armed Islamist opposition in Syria emphasizes their ideological affinity with the (broader) Muslim Brotherhood,” ARD reported the document as stating in response to a question by Die Linke.
It said that “as a result of the step-by-step Islamization of its foreign and domestic policy since 2011,” Turkey had become “the central hub for Islamist groups in the Middle East.”
The report also said that a fourth of German national citizens who travelled to Syria to join ISIS or other jihadist groups were of Turkish origin.
In response to the secret report Sevim Dagdalen, a lawmaker and member of the Linke party, said: “The German government cannot publicly designate the godfather of terrorism Erdogan as a partner, while internally warning about Turkey as a hub for terrorism.”
Turkey condemned the German government on Wednesday, saying that such accusations reflected a “twisted mentality” that has been attempting to undermine President Erdogan.
“The allegations are a new manifestation of the twisted mentality, which for some time has been trying to wear down our country, by targeting our president and government,” Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
It accused Germany of not supporting Turkey enough in their fight against domestic militant groups such as the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) which is considered a terrorist group by both Turkey and the European Union.
“It is obvious that behind these allegations are some political circles in Germany known for their double-standard attitudes in the fight against terror, including the bloody actions of the PKK terror group which continues to target Turkey,” stated the Foreign Ministry.
It added: “As a country which sincerely fights against terror of every sort whatever its source, Turkey expects that its other partners and allies act in the same way.”
Germany is home to the world’s largest Turkish diaspora. About 3 million people of Turkish origin live in the country.
However, relations between Berlin and Ankara have aggravated since Erdogan accused European nations of showing a lack of solidarity with the country’s crackdown following the failed July 15 coup which left about 290 people dead.
European nations are concerned that the rights of those being purged in connection with the abortive coup are being violated. They also worry that Erdogan is using the coup to accumulate greater power.
Turkey has detained over 35,000 people and tens of thousands have been dismissed or suspended from the police, schools and judiciary system.
Wolfgang Schaeuble, Germany’s Finance Minister, said on Tuesday that despite soured relations between the two countries, Germany must continue working with Turkey to uphold the migration deal.
The European Union and Turkey struck a deal designed to control irregular migration in return for Turkish citizens obtaining visa-free travel.
“I absolutely don’t like what Erdogan is doing, but I do not think that we should end cooperation with him,” said Schaeuble.
“It is in our own interest to keep working together,” he added.