The president of the Union of International Democrats, an organization that functions as a foreign interest group on behalf of the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan abroad, criticized the German government by supporting hate speech used by a visiting ruling party lawmaker in the German city of Neuss against dissidents living in Europe
Mustafa Açıkgöz, a lawmaker from Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), called for the “destruction” of supporters of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Gülen movement, a group critical of the Erdoğan regime, during a meeting of the Gray Wolves in the German city of Neuss.
“Just as we won’t give them the right to live in Turkey, we won’t give them the right to live in Germany, either. No matter where they flee in the world, we will destroy the PKK and FETÖ terrorist groups,” Açıkgöz said, using a derogatory term coined by the Turkish government to refer to the Gülen movement as a terrorist organization.
The German Foreign Ministry summoned the Turkish ambassador and stated there was no place for hate speech in Germany. In addition, the ministry warned Turkey in a statement on Twitter, reminding that official permission is necessary for political gatherings to which foreign politicians are invited. In addition the prosecutor’s office in Neuss also launched an investigation into the hate speech based on complaints it had received.
UID President Köksal Kuş, however, defended Açıkgöz’s statements on a TV program on Friday on Kanal Avrupa, a YouTube channel that supports the Erdoğan government. Claiming that the deputy was misunderstood, Kuş also said it doesn’t matter that Germany does not view members of the Gülen movement as members of a terrorist organization as the Turkish government does.
AKP'nin Avrupa'daki kolu Avrupa Demokratlar Birliği (UID) Genel Başkanı Köksal Kuş da Gülen cemaatini ve Kürtleri hedef gösterdi:
"Almanya’nın ‘terör örgütü’ diye tanımaması bir şey ifade etmez"
— Kronos (@KronosHaber) January 21, 2023
Kuş also said starting 90 days before elections to be held in a foreign country, politicians from that country cannot participate in election campaigns in Germany according to German law but that this does not affect the Turks living in Germany and emphasized that he has every right to take part in an election campaign in favor of the ruling party.
He stated that the tolerance shown to far-right politician Rasmus Paludan, who has several times set fire to the Qur’an in Sweden, should also be shown to Açıkgöz but that European countries applied a double standard to Turkish politicians affiliated with the AKP.
Kuş also said the European Union cannot become a political power without becoming a military power and that the union needs Turkey to achieve that. He added that Turkey was not included in the union because it is a Muslim country.
According to Kuş, the members of the ruling party who came from Turkey at the invitation of the UID do not spread political propaganda but only listen to members of the Turkish diaspora in Europe talking about their problems.
However, what Kuş says does not reflect the truth. Ruling party lawmakers are asking for support from European-Turkish voters in halls decorated with party flags and posters of Erdoğan.
In addition, some of these meetings are organized by Turkish diplomats. Nordic Monitor previously reported that Turkish diplomatic missions are organizing meetings for ruling party representatives to bring them together with Turkish citizens ahead of the 2023 presidential and parliamentary elections. Party gatherings are deliberately presented by the visiting delegation as if they are public meetings with Turkish expatriates in the host country.
Kuş, who was groomed as a far-right nationalist in his youth in Germany, runs multiple businesses in Turkey thanks to his connections to radical Islamist politicians in the country, a Nordic Monitor investigation found earlier.
Although Kuş came from an ultranationalist background, he apparently saw opportunities in involvement with President Erdoğan and his ruling AKP. He filed an application to run for election on the AKP ticket in 2015 and wanted to fill the spot assigned for the European constituency in national elections. He was unsuccessful in his bid.
According to a review of trade registry filings, Kuş has expanded his business dealings in Turkey. He worked closely with Erdoğan confidant Metin Külünk, who was investigated for his links to armed and radical Islamist groups in Turkey and helped establish the UID in Europe.
Listing a number of his relatives as partners, caretakers and shareholders in his firms, Kuş has managed his business interests as a Turkish national, never mentioning his ties to Germany in his filings. Once he had cultivated enough political capital with Turkish government officials, he ventured into the energy sector and secured a license from a Turkish regulatory body although he and his firms had no experience in energy production.
Kuş currently operates under the authority of AKP Deputy Chairman Efkan Ala, a former interior minister who runs overseas operations for the ruling party. Ala supervised the UID election in January 2021 when Kuş was elected its president.
Erdoğan frequently meets with UID delegations and gives them various instructions. Erdoğan last year instructed UID members to be more aggressive and active, telling them, “Don’t defend. Attack, explain our cause!” promising that Turkish state institutions would provide them with increased assistance.
He also urged his supporters to work hard to secure important posts in the governments of their host countries, pledging them the support of Turkish government agencies during a workshop with UID representatives in 2019.