In recent months, relations between Germany and Turkey have reached a new low. After a series of escalating spats, tourism and investment in the country have collapsed. Will it finally drive Turkish President Erdogan to change course?
They had a number of things in common — their Turkish origins, their membership in the Green Party — but today their positions couldn’t be any further apart: Ozan Ceyhun is an adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan while Cem Özdemir, in his position as the co-head of Germany’s Green Party, is one of the fiercest critics of the Turkish president.
In the nineties, Özdemir, 51, and Ceyhun, 56, fought together for migrants’ rights in Germany and against religious fundamentalism — Özdemir as a lawmaker in the German parliament, or Bundestag, and Ceyhun as an employee of the Ministry for Family Affairs of the state of Hesse in Wiesbaden. But as Özdemir climbed the ranks of his party to become co-chairman, Ceyhun became a member of the European Parliament, switched to the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) and later joined Turkey’s Justice and Development (AKP) party.
In Özdemir’s view, Ceyhun is an opportunist serving an authoritarian regime. Meanwhile, Ceyhun accuses Özdemir of consciously trying to turn public opinion against Turkey. He has repeatedly criticized Özdemir on Turkish TV. He says the two of them are no longer in contact, but that they wouldn’t have much to say to each other anyway.
The split between Özdemir and Ceyhun is also reflected on a larger scale in the relationship between Germany and Turkey, two countries closely linked by the almost 3 million Turkish-Germans, by business, by all the tourists who travel each year to the beaches of Izmir and Antalya. This rupture is not only taking place between Germans and Turks, but within the Turkish-German community, within political parties, families and groups of friends. There are disputes about the attempted coup of July 15, 2016, about the purging of the courts, the public authorities, armies and universities, about the question of whether Turkey is still a democracy or if it has already become a dictatorship.