Update on Turkish-European row: More revelations on Turkish spying in Europe and once again Erdogan calls Europe fascists

by omouggos

Erdogan continues to call European leaders fascists.

The row between Turkey and a number of European countries continues, as both sides appear no closer to resolving their disagreements. Here are some of the developments in the situation since my last update.1

EP reportedly bans dissemination of Daily Sabah

On March 23 it was reported that the European Parliament (EP) banned the dissemination of the Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah apparently because MEPs such as Jeroen Lenaers were “disturbed by the publishing line of the paper.2 However EP spokeswoman Marjory Van Den Broeke stated “There was and is no ban on any paper in the European Parliament. The Daily Sabah can be obtained at the distribution office by anyone wishing to do so.3

Regardless of whether Daily Sabah has been banned at the EP, Turkish officials took umbrage. Sabah’s editor-in-Chief Serdar Karagoz blamed the decision on FETÖ (shocking).4 Turkish EU Minister Ömer Çelik criticized the EP for “violating its own values” while Erdoğan responded “Is there democracy in Germany, Switzerland and Belgium? They do not have anything in the name of freedom or freedom of belief.5

Westminster attack and Erdoğan’s threat towards Europe

In the aftermath of the Westminster attack in London, in which a jihadi mowed down pedestrians with his car (killing 3) and then fatally stabbed a police officer before being stopped, Erdoğan expressed his condolences. However, his adviser Burhan Kuzu was not so sympathetic tweeting “Terror attack in the U.K. Is the U.K. your safest region? Well, I can shoot you in your safest place, terror tells Europe with this attack.6

Although most likely coincidental it is interesting to note that on the same day as the Westminster attack Erdoğan told reporters in Ankara “If Europe continues this way, no European in any part of the world can walk safely on the streets. We, as Turkey, call on Europe to respect human rights and democracy.7 Some people have taken this as a threat of sorts which prompted the European Commission to summon the Turkish ambassador to clarify Erdoğan’s remarks.8

PKK rally in Bern

Switzerland is also becoming directly embroiled in Europe’s dispute with Turkey. On March 25 PKK supporters held a rally in Bern, during which a poster was displayed of Erdoğan with a gun pointed towards his head reading “Kill Erdoğan.” In response Turkey has summoned the Swiss ambassador, while Swiss authorities have opened an investigation into the rally.9

Poster of Erdogan at Bern pro-PKK rally.

Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ called the rally a “terror attack” while Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu stated “It is unacceptable that a socialist party in Switzerland held a rally with PKK members or a terrorist organization and they use [these types of] slogans.10 Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin wondered “Since when has it become normal in a European country to call for the murder of a president? Has the anti-Turkey animus and the anti-Erdogan paranoia really reached this level of insanity?11 Erdoğan himself responded:12

“Switzerland took it a step further. Their leftist parties and the terrorists … have come together and carried out a march. In the Swiss parliament, they hang my picture with a gun to my head. The Swiss parliament remains silent in the face of this.”

Turkish spying in Europe

This issue of Turkish spying within Germany and other European countries has once again come to the forefront. According to various German news outlets the Federal Intelligence Service was given dossiers by Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency (MİT) on individuals living in Germany who were suspected of being Gülenists.13 Apparently around 300 such individuals were monitored by the MİT, presumably with the help of Turkish imams. German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière warned such spying “will not be tolerated by” Germany and “we have repeatedly told Turkey that something like this is unacceptable.14 The German Interior Ministry is currently investigating the issue.

Possibly the most shocking revelation was that German SPD Bundestag member Michelle Müntefering, who is also the chairwoman of the German-Turkish parliamentary group, was among those being spied on by the MİT.15 SPD caucus leader, Thomas Oppermann, described the spying on his colleague as “absolutely unacceptable.

Michelle Muntefering is being spied on by Turkey. (image from augsburger-allgemeine.de)

The Swiss are also investigating the possibility of Turkish spying in their country as “The Office of the Attorney General has been made aware of concrete suspicion that political espionage has likely been conducted involving the Turkish community in Switzerland.16 Radio Sweden has presented evidence that Turkey is spying on suspected Gülenists in Sweden.17 Reportedly in Romania Diyanet imams have been spying on suspected Gülenists.18 Turkey’s spying is not limited to imams as according to German security expert Erich Schmidt-Eenboom there are 400 active Turkish intelligence agents in Germany and 800 in the rest of Europe.19

Germany vetoes weapon exports to Turkey

Hürriyet has reported that “Germany has rejected an unusually high number of requests for arms exports to Turkey in recent months due to mounting concerns about deteriorating human rights.20 To this Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Işık responded “It is unacceptable that two allied countries are creating such difficulties for one another.21 Erdoğan complained that Germany will not sell weapons to her NATO ally Turkey but will do so to terror groups.22

Turkey’s interference in Bulgaria and Greece

In Bulgaria nationalists from the United Patriots coalition blocked checkpoints on the Turkish border to prevent buses of Bulgarian Turks from voting in the country’s elections.23 According to Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus the blocking of Turkish voters was “unacceptable” and “it is against democracy, neighborliness and the good relations between us.24 It should be remembered that a Turkish politician had advised Bulgarian Turks to vote for the DOST party.

Prior to the border blockade, Erdoğan stated “I am calling on Bulgaria. I am calling on our kin and brothers there… It seriously upsets us to see and hear that pressure is being exerted there.25 To this Bulgarian President Rumen Radev responded “Bulgaria does not give, but also does not accept lessons in democracy, especially from countries that do not respect the rule of law.

Moving on to Greece, Turkey is continuing its provocations. According to the former secretary general of the Turkish Defense Ministry, Umit Yalim, after the upcoming April 16 referendum, Turkey should hold another referendum to determine whether they will take back the Aegean islands, which if you are unaware are currently Greek territory.26 Based on his sources, Abdullah Bozkurt has reported that Turkish intelligence “has escalated clandestine ops in #Greece, raising the number of operatives.27 There have also been a few recent incidents involving Turkish CN-235 reconnaissance planes and F-16s violating Greek airspace, one of which involved mock dogfights between Greek and Turkish fighter jets.28

Erdoğan threatens referendum on Turkey’s EU accession

Erdoğan has warned Europe that following the April 16 referendum he will review Turkish relations with Europe. He said “Once April 16 is over, we will sit at the table. This cannot continue this way. We, as Turkey, will do what is necessary.29 He also suggested that “we could choose to do another on the EU accession talks and we would abide by whatever our people would say there.”30 However Binali Yıldırım expects relations between Turkey and Europe to “relatively normalize” in the near future following the completion of various European national elections as he believes that much the Europe’s animus is a political ploy to garner more votes.31


p style=”padding-left:30px;”>Erdoğan calls Europe fascist and likens it to a Crusader Alliance

Erdoğan is continuing his taunts of fascism against Europe. During a CNN Türk interview he warned: “You have the freedom to call Erdoğan a dictator but Erdoğan does not have the freedom to call you a fascist or a Nazi. Take no offense, but I will continue to use the same concepts for them as long as they continue to call Erdoğan a dictator.32 He also stated:33

“You call the president of the Republic of Turkey a dictator. When we call them Nazis, fascists they are disturbed. Are you not the ones who draw swastikas on the walls of our mosques? Have you not burned and destroyed my mosques? You are fascists, fascists! … They put a gun next to my photo and marched. Are you making us sad? You will be sad.”

He also remained defiant declaring “Turkey is not a country to be hustled around; it is not a country whose honor is to be played with, whose ministers are to be kicked out and whose citizens are to be jostled on the streets.34 Binali Yıldırım also warned “we won’t OK those who want to create a crisis. I am warning Europe here, don’t interfere in our domestic issues, mind your own business. Everyone must know their place. Is it your business to let the PKK organize protests [in the EU]? Is it your business to embrace FETÖ?35

Not only is Europe fascist but according to Erdoğan they are Crusaders, in league with the Vatican, and out to get Turkey. He claimed:36

“All the leaders of the EU countries went to the Vatican and listened to the pope submissively. Do you now understand why they have not been taking Turkey into the EU for 54 years? The situation is quite loud and clear, it is a Crusader Alliance. April 16 will also be the day to evaluate this. … I turned out to be right on what I have been saying [about the EU]. They have been lying to us in a row for 14 years. And they keep on lying.”

It is interesting to note that in recent articles by Ibrahim Karagul, have also been describing Europe as being on a Crusade against Turkey.37 I guess the similarity of Erdoğan’s and Karagul’s messages is just a coincidence.

European reaction

European leaders have remained firm in their rhetorical opposition to Turkey and Erdoğan’s constant denigration of them. Volker Bouffier, vice chairman of the CDU party declared “Enough is enough. Mr. Erdogan and his government are not welcome in our country, and that must be now understood.38 Martin Schulz described Erdoğan as impertinent saying “The fact that the head of state of a friendly country insults the country’s governor in this form is impertinence.39

According to German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier “The way we look (at Turkey) is characterized by worry, that everything that has been built up over years and decades is collapsing. President Erdogan, you are jeopardizing everything that you, with others, have built.40 Erdoğan responded “Steinmeier made a statement targeting me although we are good friends. I deplore him for his statement. I wish he had never made such a statement.41

German daily Bild published an online article titled “Referendum in Turkey. If Atatürk were alive, he would say ‘no’.42 According to professor Burak Çopur, the founding father of modern Turkey “was authoritarian but not totalitarian.” Erdoğan responded:43

“On what ground have they said such a thing? Do they have the ability to read the memories of Atatürk? What does it have to do with Atatürk? Now, I would say, on the contrary, that if Atatürk were to rise again, he would say ‘yes’ to the regulation we have prepared because he, himself, lived with such [a system]. Atatürk did what we want to do.”

Some European politicians have gone so far as to basically meddle in Turkish affairs. For instance Cem Özdemir co-chair of the German greens has advised Turks to vote no in the upcoming referendum.44 EP member Elmar Brok has stated “I advise Turkish citizens to use their vote against the constitutional changes, vote for freedom [i.e. vote no].”45

Cem Ozdemir.

However, not all are against Turkey. Gunter Verheugen, a former high level EU official, was critical of Europe’s treatment of Turkey:46

“I think that the bans and obstructions are violating the democratic rules and they are an insult to Turkish citizens living in Germany. … Many politicians, not only in Germany but also in other European countries, have had the perception that treating Turkish politicians as unwelcome foreigners would be received positively by their own electorate. I view this as a dangerous opportunism.”

O Mouggos


[1] Update on Turkey-Netherlands row: Turkish officials threaten to unleash migrants into Europe, Cavusoglu speaks of holy wars and Erdogan tells Turks in Europe to have more children

[2] http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/european-parliament-president-bans-distribution-of-daily-sabah-at-parliament.aspx?pageID=238&nID=111171&NewsCatID=351

[3] https://www.turkishminute.com/2017/03/25/european-parliament-denies-ban-distribution-daily-sabah/

[4] http://aa.com.tr/en/europe/feto-behind-ban-on-daily-sabah-in-european-parliament/778956

[5] http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/eu-minister-slams-european-parliament-over-ban-of-daily-sabah.aspx?pageID=238&nID=111220&NewsCatID=510 , https://www.turkishminute.com/2017/03/24/erdogan-says-no-democracy-freedoms-germany-switzerland-belgium/

[6] http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/uk-ambassador-to-turkey-criticizes-akp-deputy-star-editor-over-london-terror-attack-remarks.aspx?pageID=238&nID=111166&NewsCatID=351

[7] http://en.protothema.gr/turkeys-erdogan-warns-europeans-will-not-walk-safely-on-the-streets-if-diplomatic-row-continues/

[8] http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/eu-says-summons-turkish-ambassador-over-erdogan-safety-remarks.aspx?pageID=238&nID=111193&NewsCatID=351

[9] http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkish-foreign-ministry-summons-swiss-ambassador-over-pkk-rally-in-bern-.aspx?pageID=238&nID=111250&NewsCatID=510 , https://www.turkishminute.com/2017/03/26/swiss-govt-lunches-probe-anti-erdogan-protests-envoy-summoned-ankara/

[10] http://aa.com.tr/en/politics/turkish-minister-slams-swiss-government-over-pkk-rally/780049http://aa.com.tr/en/todays-headlines/banner-calling-for-erdogan-s-murder-unacceptable/780675


[12] http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/03/26/515708/erdogan-turkey-germany-fascists-netherlands

[13] http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkeys-intel-agency-sent-files-on-gulenists-living-in-germany-to-bnd-german-media-reports.aspx?pageID=238&nID=111318&NewsCatID=509

[14] https://www.turkishminute.com/2017/03/28/berlin-launches-probe-turkish-intelligence-spying-gulen-followers-germany/

[15] http://www.dw.com/en/name-of-german-spd-lawmaker-michelle-m%C3%BCntefering-found-on-turkish-spying-list/a-38195162

[16] https://www.turkishminute.com/2017/03/24/switzerland-opens-probe-allegations-spying-turkish-community/

[17] https://www.turkishminute.com/2017/03/29/radio-sweden-exposes-turkish-govt-tracking-critics-sweden/

[18] https://www.turkishminute.com/2017/04/02/report-imams-spied-gulen-sympathizers-romania/

[19] http://en.protothema.gr/shocking-revelations-800-turkish-secret-services-operating-in-europe/

[20] http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/german-refusals-for-arms-exports-to-turkey-spike-in-past-months-report.aspx?pageID=238&nID=111140&NewsCatID=351

[21] http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/german-veto-on-arms-exports-to-turkey-unacceptable-minister-.aspx?pageID=238&nID=111236&NewsCatID=510

[22] https://www.dailysabah.com/politics/2017/03/26/erdogan-slams-germany-on-arms-sales-ban-says-swastika-signs-on-mosques-sign-of-fascism

[23] https://www.turkishminute.com/2017/03/24/tensions-rise-bulgarian-nationalists-block-turkish-border-bar-electoral-tourism/

[24] http://aa.com.tr/en/europe/turkey-based-bulgarian-voter-blockade-unacceptable/779167

[25] https://www.turkishminute.com/2017/03/23/bulgaria-president-slams-erdogan-saying-wont-accept-lessons-democracy-turkey/

[26] http://en.protothema.gr/turkish-official-turkey-will-hold-a-referendum-for-the-islands-the-greeks-have-taken-from-us/

[27] http://en.protothema.gr/turkish-journalist-turkish-secret-services-increase-operartions-in-greece/

[28] http://en.protothema.gr/turkish-cn-235-violates-greek-airspace-16-times/ , https://en.protothema.gr/breaking-turkish-f-16-jets-fly-over-greek-islands/ , http://en.protothema.gr/eight-turkish-aircraft-violate-greek-airspace-33-times/ , http://en.protothema.gr/dog-fights-between-greek-and-turkish-f-16s-over-aegean-sea/

[29] http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-to-sit-and-talk-with-eu-after-charter-referendum-erdogan.aspx?pageID=238&nID=111061&NewsCatID=510

[30] http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-may-hold-referendum-on-eu-accession-bid-erdogan.aspx?pageID=238&nID=111249&NewsCatID=510

[31] http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-eu-ties-to-relatively-normalize-after-elections-in-europe-turkish-pm.aspx?pageID=238&nID=111309&NewsCatID=510

[32] http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/i-will-describe-europe-as-nazis-as-long-as-they-call-me-a-dictator-erdogan.aspx?pageID=238&nID=111194&NewsCatID=510

[33] https://www.turkishminute.com/2017/03/26/erdogan-calls-europe-fascist-accuses-of-burning-mosques/

[34] http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-not-a-country-to-be-jostled-erdogan.aspx?pageID=238&nID=111108&NewsCatID=510

[35] https://www.turkishminute.com/2017/03/28/turkish-pm-warns-eu-referendum-mind-business/

[36] http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/erdogan-eu-is-crusader-alliance-lying-to-us.aspx?pageID=238&nID=111524&NewsCatID=338 , https://www.turkishminute.com/2017/04/02/erdogan-demands-response-crusader-eu-april-16/

[37] http://www.yenisafak.com/en/columns/ibrahimkaragul/throw-that-photograph-in-their-faces-we-wont-give-up-so-easily-2037049 , http://www.yenisafak.com/en/columns/ibrahimkaragul/why-a-crusader-attack-they-know-anatolia-this-last-fort-is-going-to-spoil-the-game-2036998

[38] http://en.protothema.gr/merkel-ally-says-turkeys-erdogan-not-welcome-in-germany/

[39] https://www.turkishminute.com/2017/03/20/merkel-says-turkey-must-put-end-unacceptable-nazi-remarks-germany/

[40] http://presstv.ir/Detail/2017/03/22/515251/Germany-Steinmeier-Erdogan-Turkish-success

[41] http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/i-will-describe-europe-as-nazis-as-long-as-they-call-me-a-dictator-erdogan.aspx?pageID=238&nID=111194&NewsCatID=510

[42] https://www.turkishminute.com/2017/03/27/german-daily-bild-says-ataturk-vote-no-referendum-alive/

[43] http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/ataturk-would-have-said-yes-in-referendum-president-erdogan-says.aspx?pageID=238&nID=111320&NewsCatID=338

[44] https://www.dailysabah.com/politics/2017/03/26/german-politician-ozdemir-meddles-in-turkish-politics-urges-no-vote

[45] https://www.turkishminute.com/2017/03/27/eps-brok-calls-turks-germany-vote-no-referendum/

[46] http://aa.com.tr/en/europe/verheugen-german-rally-bans-violated-democratic-rules/777983