Turkey's President Erdogan was reportedly so angered at a satirical video of him being shown on German media, he summoned Berlin's ambassador. Germany's response was simple: respect freedom of speech.
When a German satirical video spread online mocking President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his crackdown on the press, the Turkish president was certainly not laughing along. After summoning Ambassador Martin Erdmann, the Foreign Office in Berlin said they had used the opportunity not to apologize, but to put pressure on Turkey to support free speech instead of censoring it.
"The rule of law, the independence of the justice system and the protection of basic freedoms, including freedom of the press and speech are important commodities that we must all protect together," the Foreign Office said in a statement.
The video in question originally aired on March 17 on Germany's public NDR broadcaster. Featuring a song titled "Erdowie, Erdowo, Erdogan" (a play on the Turkish leader's name and the name of an old German hit song), there are lyrics such as "a journalist that writes something that doesn't suit Erdogan is in jail tomorrow." Accompanying the song are images of police breaking up demonstrations and pictures of the president himself.
Free press endangered
In the past year, many Turkish journalists who have been critical of Erdogan have seen themselves in court on espionage charges, and many of the country's independent media outlets have been bought up by businesspeople friendly to the president.
The German media was similarly unimpressed by Erdogan's fury. The leader of Germany's main journalism union, the DJV, said that the leader had "clearly lost his grip" if he was going to make such a fuss over a comedy video.
Speaking with news outlet "Spiegel Online," the ruling Christian Democrats (CDU) decried the "hopeless arrogance" of President Erdogan trying to "intimidate" Germany and its basic freedoms.
Despite the crackdown on the press, Germany has said it will support negotiations for a Turkish bid to join the European Union. Recently, Ankara inked a deal with the EU to stem the flow of refugees into Europe in exchange for visa liberalization and a generous aid package.