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‘Erdogan’s Turkey has no place in Europe’

Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan was voted in as President on Monday, prompting Germany to ponder whether Turkey was or would ever be European enough for the EU. The Local's media round up looks at the reaction.

'Erdogan's Turkey has no place in Europe'
Photo: DPA

Turkish Prime Minister Reccep Tayyip Erdogan has claimed victory as his country's first popularly elected president on Monday. Erdogan thanked supporters of his Justice and Development (AK) party in Ankara, while promising the "start of a new era" for Turkey.

He has promised Turkey a new constitution that would include granting the presidential office executive powers. The election of the traditionally conservative Islamic party leader to top office has caused some concern among German political leaders.

"Erdogan's Turkey has no place in Europe," Andreas Scheuer of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party to Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU), told the Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung on Tuesday. Scheuer called for the end of negotiations for Turkey to enter into the European Union.

Other parties are backing the CSU's call for a stop to the talks. Green party chairman Cem Özdemir told Nordwest Zeitung that an Erdogan-ruled Turkey is an "increasingly authoritarian state", adding that given current instabilities in Iraq and Syria as well as the conflict in Israel and Palestine, a stable Turkey is key to European safety.

The Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the European Parliament, Elmar Brock (CDU) told Die Welt daily paper that Erdogan's transformation of Turkey into an autocratic state would damage the foundation of the EU entrance negotiations.

Germany's newspapers echoed the sentiments of its political parties.

"The path to an authoritarian government is paved," claimed the popular daily Bild in its coverage of Edrogan's election.

In an article entitled "What Germans need to know about Erdogan", the paper wrote:

"It's not easy to explain to a German why 20 million Turkish people voted in a president caught in the middle of a multi-million Euro corruption scandal. To understand, one has to be Turkish."

The left-leaning Tageszeitung said "Victory but not a win," adding that initial polling had the AK Party leader polling much higher than the results showed on Sunday night. Reports also lauded the unexpected success of the People's Democratic Party (HDP) candidate Selahattin Demirtas, who took 10 percent of the popular vote.

"The one-man show, feared by many and unwanted by few, is far from perfect. Although Erdogan exhausted his powers of acting Prime Minister to engineer a grotesquely unfair election campaign through his control or intimidation of local television coverage so that coverage of opposing candidates was barely seen, the outcome of this election compared to the 2011 parliamentarian election hardly changed."

Tagesschau reporter Reinhard Baumgarten said: "Turkey under President Erdogan may become more Islamic, more like the Ottoman empire, and more oriental. He aspires to a presidential system … modelled after Russia under Vladimir Putin."

The Sueddeutsche daily says the victory isn't enough for the polarizing President elect. Instead of creating a "checks and balances" office like that of the US, a presidency under Erdogan will forego a two-chamber parliament in Ankara.

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POLITICS

EU ministers urge unity after Germany’s energy ‘bazooka’

EU finance ministers on Monday pleaded for unity after Germany announced a €200 billion plan to help German households and businesses pay for high energy prices, amid accusations that the EU's biggest economy was acting alone.

EU ministers urge unity after Germany's energy 'bazooka'

Europe is struggling with historically high energy prices as it faces an early autumn cold snap and a coming winter almost certainly to be endured without crucial Russian gas supplies because of the war in Ukraine.

Many EU countries have announced national programmes to shield consumers from the high prices. But Germany went the furthest on Friday when it announced its mammoth plan, which will see help pouring to Germans for two years.

Arriving to talk with his eurozone counterparts, German Finance Minister Christian Lindner insisted the spending was “proportionate” to the size of Germany’s economy and said his goal was to use as little of the money as possible.

READ ALSO: Germany to spend €200 billion to cap soaring energy costs

But Germany’s largesse rankled several EU capitals, some of which feared their industries could take severe blows while Germany’s sits protected, deforming the EU’s single market.

Outgoing Italian prime minister Mario Draghi has slammed Berlin for its lack of solidarity and coordination with EU partners.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, without directly criticizing Berlin, called on partners to agree a common strategy against the price shock and for countries to refrain from going it alone.

“The more this strategy is coordinated, united, the better it is for all of us,” he said.

Risk to ‘European unity’

Others pointed to the unprecedented solidarity shown in the Covid-19 crisis in which the 27 EU nations, against all expectations, approved a jointly financed €750 billion recovery plan.

“Solidarity is not only on the German shoulders, I think this is something that we have to deliver at European level,” said EU economics affairs commissioner Paolo Gentiloni.

“We have very good examples from the previous crisis on how solidarity can react to a crisis and also reassure financial markets. I think that this is our goal,” he said.

While a Covid-style recovery plan is not in the cards for now, Le Maire said €200 billion in loans and €20 billion in aid should be devoted to REPowerEU, a programme to help countries break their dependence on Russian gas.

READ ALSO: Will Germany set a gas price cap – and how would it work?

Bruegel, a highly influential think tank in Brussels, called the German plan a spending “bazooka” that many EU countries were unable to match, creating a potential source of animosity.

“If the German gas price brake gives German business a much better chance to survive the crisis than, say, Italian business, economic divergences in the EU could be deepened, and European unity on Russia undermined,” it said in a blog.

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