Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is set to deliver a message regarding the European Union’s perceived double standards in favor of Israel in its approach to the Hamas-Israeli conflict during his visit to Germany on November 17. Erdogan signaled that he would emphasize that Turkey does not consider Hamas a terrorist organization, challenging the EU’s stance.
Returning from an extraordinary joint summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Arab League in Riyadh on Sunday, Erdogan discussed his preparations for the upcoming visit to Germany during a press briefing on the plane.
Erdogan stated that he would convey certain messages during the visit, emphasizing that his messages in the most powerful EU country will be heard across Europe.
In response to journalists recalling the European Union Commission’s criticism of Turkey’s support for Hamas, Erdogan said Turkey would not fall into the trap set by the EU. He questioned whether the EU had stood up for the dignity of human life in the face of Gazans “massacred” by Israel, highlighting that the real question which should be asked by Turkey is whether the EU had acted in line with its values.
Erdogan remarked, “I believe the visit to Germany will reveal many things,” when asked about the current discrepancy in approaches to the Israeli-Hamas conflict.
When reminded that the issue of Hamas would likely come up during the Germany visit, Erdogan said the EU thinks about Hamas in the same way Israel thinks about it. However, he emphasized that Turkey’s perspective on Hamas would never be like that of the EU.
Erdogan also claimed that the EU and the West pressure other countries to designate Hamas as a terrorist organization,.
“No, my friends, Hamas is a terrorist organization. On the contrary, they are people fighting to protect their lands, defending and fighting for their homeland. Our perspectives on this matter are vastly different,” he told journalists.
Erdogan will be hosted by both President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Prime Minister Olaf Scholz during his visit on Friday.
According to reports in the German media, the Germans are expected to emphasize Israel’s right to self-defense and assert that Hamas is a terrorist organization, in joint statements to the press. The German media also highlighted concerns about Germany’s policy in remaining silent on Erdogan’s aggressive foreign policy moves and human rights violations in return for refugees held within Turkish borders.
Erdogan, often using foreign policy as a tool for domestic politics, could utilize his visit to Germany as a platform to convey messages to his own political base in Turkey. It is not difficult to anticipate that Erdogan will strongly condemn the EU with harsh words for remaining silent to Israel’s military operations causing civilian casualties, intending it to be frequently shared on mass and social media by his supporters.
In its annual report on Turkey released last week, the European Commission stated that Turkey’s unilateral foreign policy contradicts the EU’s priorities under the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). Additionally, the commission said Turkey’s supportive rhetoric towards the terrorist group Hamas, following its attacks on Israel on October 7, is in disagreement with the approach taken by the European Union.
The report alleged that Turkey supports Hamas, which the EU considers a terrorist organization. The report specifically mentions Turkey’s backing of Hamas after its attacks on Israel on October 7, highlighting a complete disagreement with the EU approach.
Turkey, expressing strong dissatisfaction with the commission’s report in a statement released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, harshly criticized the European Union’s policies in the Israel-Hamas conflict.
“We in fact take it as praise attempts by the EU to criticize Türkiye‘s principled stance regarding the Hamas-Israel War. The EU is on the wrong side of history in the face of a massacre that is reminiscent of the darkness of medieval times. The EU must remember that policies based on universal values, international law, and humanitarian principles cannot be limited to Ukraine or other regions of Europe but must be pursued universally, including the Middle East,” the ministry statement reads.
Nordic Monitor previously reported that in the initial stages of the conflict, Turkish President Erdogan called for restraint from both sides, presenting a departure from his previous strong statements about Israel. Erdogan immediately called Israeli President Isaac Herzog to convey his condolences for the loss of life among Israelis. However, when this approach failed to garner the anticipated attention and he faced challenges in maintaining his balanced stance due to the intense Israeli military operation in Gaza and the resulting civilian casualties, triggering reactions within his political base, Erdogan later issued strong remarks regarding Israel’s extensive military operations, which have also reportedly killed thousands of civilians along with Hamas militants.
He described Hamas as a liberation group engaged in a battle to protect its lands and people, rejecting the characterization of it as a terrorist group.
In a telephone conversation with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh on October 22, Erdogan emphasized Turkey’s commitment to working towards an immediate ceasefire in the region.