German politician warns Turkey over Israel, Cyprus threats
By BENJAMIN WEINTHAL, JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT
BERLIN – The head of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Bundestag, Deputy Ruprecht Polenz, reprimanded Turkey for its jingoistic policies toward Israel and Cyprus, according to a report in a Turkish daily on Tuesday.
Istanbul’s Hürriyet Daily News quoted Polenz as saying on Monday that Turkey’s statements against Israel recall the language of “Arab dictators.”
“This attitude [of Turkey] may appear to generate support in the Arab world.
However, anti-Israel emotions have been used by Arab dictators for a long time and it’s questionable if that’s worked out,” he said.
“Israel and Turkey’s worsening relations are of serious concern for us,” and Germany is of the view that “two of its friends were fighting,” Polenz said, according to Hürriyet.
According to a report in the Hamburger Abendblatt, Polenz, a deputy from the Christian Democratic Union, the party of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, criticized deficits in Turkey’s application of religious freedom. Polenz took Turkey to task for failing to allow Christians to practice their religion.
Bundestag deputy Volker Kauder (CDU) said mosques are permitted to be built in Germany and Christians should be allowed to build churches in Turkey.
Hürriyet cited remarks from a Brussels-based diplomat, Giles Portman, who serves as an adviser on Turkey at the European Union External Action Service.
“We want to see Turkey and Israel improve their bilateral relations,” Portman said. “We want Turkey to play a role in the Middle East peace process.
Turkey has a capability for that if it has relations with Israel.”
In another stinging remark on Turkey’s aggressive foreign policy, Polenz asked, “Why doesn’t Turkey practice its zero problem policy on Cyprus?” according to the Turkish paper.
Polenz appears to have alluded to Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s declaration that Turkey has “zero problems with neighbors.”
With a view toward Turkey’s application to join the European Union, Polenz suggested that Ankara reevaluate its Cyprus policy and permit Greek vessels from Cyprus to dock at Turkish ports.
The remarks were unusually strong for Polenz, who favors Turkey’s admission to the EU. His position contradicts that of Merkel and many of his party’s deputies, who favor a loose association membership, but not full EU rights for Turkey.