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Erdogan wraps up trip to Germany

September 29, 2018

A visit to Cologne, home to a significant number of Turks, was the final stop in the Turkish leader's three-day trip. Hundreds of people, including many from the Kurdish community, came out to the streets.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrives for the opening ceremony of a mosque in Cologne.
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/H. Kaiser

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wrapped up a three-day trip to Germany on Saturday saying the controversial visit had been "extremely successful."

"I believe our meetings for two days have cemented a long-established Turkish-German friendship," he said of the visit that aimed to mend ties with Berlin after two years of tension. He added that Turkey and Germany "need to focus on joint interests, leaving aside some recent differences of opinion."

Read more: Opinion: Recep Tayyip Erdogan's pompous state visit to Germany

Erdogan traveled Saturday to the western city of Cologne for the final leg of his visit, where he inaugurated one of Europe's biggest mosques. The new mosque is run by DITIB, a Turkish-Germanic Islamic organization funded by Ankara.

Read moreErdogan in Germany: What you need to know about DITIB mosque association

"In a critical period, we have made a fruitful, successful visit to Germany," Erdogan told guests at the opening of the Central Mosque. "I stressed that we need to put aside our differences and focus on our common interests." 

The Turkish president called on Germany to take a hard line against Kurdish separatists. At a state dinner Friday with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Erdogan alluded to the "hundreds, thousands," of terrorists living in Germany. The Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey as well as the United States and the European Union.

Erdogan also said soccer star Mesut Özil was forced to retire from the German national team after Germany's World Cup exit because of his Turkish roots.

"This racism has to end," he said, adding that Germany should reinstate dual citizenship.

Supporters, opponents come face to face

Hundreds of people, including several from the city's Kurdish community, protested Erdogan's visit to the city, citing the deteriorating human rights situation in Turkey.

A number of Erdogan supporters lined the street leading up to the mosque to greet the Turkish leader.

DW's William Glucroft and Carla Bleiker were on the ground in Cologne to cover events surrounding Erdogan's visit to the city and mosque.

Carla Bleiker tweeted a picture of Erdogan supporters and opponents facing each other a few meters away from the mosque with police standing in between:

Security in Cologne has been stepped up in view of the protests. Police snipers were stationed on rooftops and the area around the mosque was cordoned off.

Authorities on Friday canceled an open-air event outside the mosque, citing security concerns. Some 25,000 people had signed up for the event, a Facebook page set up by the organizers showed.

Erdogan met the premier of the western state of North-Rhine Westphalia, Armin Laschet, moments after he landed in Cologne.

Laschet and Cologne mayor Henriette Reker did not attend the opening ceremony of the mosque.

ap/sms (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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