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Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan blasted Germany, Nato, Washington and Israel in a speech to his party on July 25, accusing foreign agents of attempting to “break my country up into pieces”.
Some analysts speculated that the speech might signal that Ankara is accelerating its political realignment away from the West and towards Moscow. In his speech, Erdogan defiantly vowed that Turkey would move ahead with its purchase of S-400 advanced missile defence batteries from Russia, which would be incompatible with the systems of fellow Nato members.
Erdogan’s lashing out came the day after there were some signs that Ankara was feeling the heat from a German reorientation of policy towards Turkey which might threaten its tourism industry and investment environment. Hours after he spoke the EU warned the Turkish foreign minister that Ankara's accession into the European bloc would not progress unless Turkey halted its slide towards authoritarianism.
“You’re going to prevent Turkey’s president and ministers from speaking in your country, but your agents are going to swarm in, come to hotels here and break my country up into pieces?” Erdogan said in his speech, according to Bloomberg. “That’s not going to happen. Either you’re going to show respect for our sovereign rights, you’re going to be partners, friends and allies on just and equal terms, or you’re going to get a response to every act of disrespect.”
“God willing, we’ll see [the Russian missile batteries] in our country soon," Erdogan also reportedly said, claiming that Turkey had worked for years to buy similar systems from the US but was not able to seal a deal allowing joint production. “If we can’t get what we want from America, we have to search elsewhere,” he was reported as saying.
Erdogan also called on all Muslims to visit Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa mosque. The site has triggered recent Israeli-Palestinian unrest and Erdogan has joined those voices claiming Israel is attempting to take the mosque away from Muslims.
Part of Berlin’s toughened policy against Turkey includes suspending arms deals involving the country until all such transactions are reviewed.
Germany was quite restrained in its response to Erdogan prior to the April referendum on introducing an executive presidency in Turkey, when the president aimed Nazi jibes at the Germans after Turkish ministers were barred from addressing expatriate Turkish voters.
However, Berlin has grown increasingly unsettled at what it sees as Turkey’s blatant disregard for human rights – including those of many journalists – amid the state of emergency in the country, introduced after the attempted coup in July last year and recently extended by another three months. It has also been angered by Turkey’s refusal to allow German delegations to visit German troops stationed in Turkey.
German ministers have spoken of not allowing Ankara to blackmail Berlin.