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Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan (L) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel review a guard of honour during a welcoming ceremony in Ankara February 25, 2013. REUTERS/Altan Burgucu (TURKEY - Tags: POLITICS)
Image: Reuters

Different priorities

J. Papadimitriou, P. Sokollu / cmk
September 6, 2013

Chancellor Angela Merkel and the issues discussed in the German election campaign have sparked headlines abroad, notably in Turkey and Greece. Each country has a very different relationship with Germany.


In Turkey, hardly anyone will be wishing Chancellor Angela Merkel and her current CDU/CSU and FDP coalition government luck for the election campaign.

"The German government takes the lead in the EU when it comes to rejecting Turkish membership," Emre Gönen, a political scientist at the European Institute of Bilgi University in Istanbul, told DW. Merkel herself symbolizes this hostility to Turkey's EU accession for many Turks and the Turkish government, and is therefore unpopular.

In particular, the protests earlier this summer in Istanbul's Gezi Park led to verbal sparring between Berlin and Ankara. Merkel criticized the police response against the protesters as being "much too harsh."

Turkish EU Affairs Minister Egemen Bagis replied: "If Ms. Merkel is looking for a topic to exploit domestically, then it should not be Turkey.

Riot police guard the entrance of Gezi Park as anti-government protesters shout slogans at Taksim square in central Istanbul July 20, 2013. REUTERS/Osman Orsal (TURKEY - Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS)
Germany slammed Turkey for its handling of the Gezi Park protestsImage: Reuters

"Turkey is currently struggling with other domestic and foreign policy conflicts: the Gezi Park demonstrations and the Syrian conflict. About half a million Syrians have sought refuge in neighboring Turkey," he said.

Turkish immigration to Germany

In addition to the EU accession debate, Gönen sees only one other reason for the Turkish public to at all be interested in the German elections: the high number of Turkish migrants in Germany.

Turkish experts don't expect any significant changes on this particular issue - not even if the balance of power shifts in parliament. Turks living in Germany could only benefit if, for example, a coalition is formed with the participation of the Green party, according to Fatma Yilmaz-Elmas, a political scientist at the European Institute.

"At least the Greens are supporting dual citizenship for German-Turks. That would be a positive development," she said.

'Greek election fever'

In Greece, the German election has produced quite a few headlines: "Greek election fever in Germany" in the daily newspaper Ta Nea, or "Riotous German election campaign with Greek background" in the weekly To Vima. The articles' authors are of the opinion that by provoking discussion of a third bailout package for Greece, candidates are fishing for votes.

The mood in Greece ahead of the election is split, said Tassos Tsakiroglou, political expert of the Athens-based Journal of Editors, speaking with DW.

A poster showing Merkel and the Nazi swastika AFP PHOTO/ LOUISA GOULIAMAKI (Photo credit should read LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Merkel hasn't been very well received by the Greek publicImage: AFP/Getty Images

"Some think that, regardless of the election outcome, there could be a fundamental change in Germany so that even a debt haircut for Greece is no longer taboo," said Tsakiroglou. But such a move would also be announced after the elections, as it is such an unpopular subject for many German voters.

"Other people fear a turn in the opposite direction: German calling for new, even more drastic austerity measures," he said. But Tsakiroglou believes that, regardless of who is elected chancellor, that the Greeks shouldn't expect any earth-shattering changes.

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