Revenge spit in Ankara: Erdogan also has kebab grilled for Steinmeier

Revenge spit in Ankara
Erdogan also has kebab grilled for Steinmeier

The Turkish president may have more humor than is usually assumed: Erdogan also serves up a monumental kebab skewer to say goodbye to the German head of state. Steinmeier had previously traveled to Turkey with one of these.

The journey began with kebab and ended with kebab. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan invited Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier to lunch at the end of his visit to Turkey – and had kebab served. The skewer was prepared using a grill on one of the balconies of the monumental Presidential Palace in Ankara. With this, Erdogan took up a topic that attracted more attention in the German and Turkish media than anything else during Steinmeier’s visit – kebab diplomacy.

Steinmeier cited the media's fixation on the kebab issue "superficial".

Steinmeier called the media’s fixation on the kebab issue “superficial.”

(Photo: Office of the Federal President)

When he arrived, Steinmeier took a frozen kebab skewer from a Berlin kebab shop along with the owner of the kebab shop. Steinmeier criticized the fuss over the kebab skewer as a “sign of the superficiality of the debate.” He took a delegation with him on his visit that “represents the diversity of the Turkish community” – and that includes the kebab restaurant.

At the joint press conference in Ankara, Erdogan was rather taciturn about the grilled meat debate: “I think the kebab is over in Istanbul,” he replied to a corresponding question. At a reception hosted by Steinmeier, the grilled meat from Berlin was served to guests in Istanbul on Monday evening.

With the gesture, the Federal President’s Office wanted to express one of the core themes of the visit – namely the appreciation of the life’s work of Turkish immigrants in Germany. However, the gesture sparked a partly malicious debate on social media: one accusation was that Steinmeier was reinforcing clichés about Turkey.

Steinmeier: “We need each other”

At the end of his visit, Steinmeier called for deepening relations after years of political alienation. After his almost two-hour conversation with Erdogan, the Federal President referred to the many international crises that required cooperation. “We need each other,” he said. “That’s why we should give new importance to German-Turkish relations.”

Conflict issues also come up. Conflict issues also come up.

Conflict issues also come up.

(Photo: picture alliance/dpa)

At the joint press conference in the presidential palace in Ankara, both presidents also addressed conflict issues, but avoided an exchange of blows on the open stage. Steinmeier did not openly criticize the human rights situation in Turkey. However, he pointed out that “the rule of law, human rights and freedom of the press are important prerequisites” for closer cooperation with Europe.

However, the Federal President made it clear that he would welcome a change in Turkey’s political orientation. He reported on the meetings during his three-day visit to Istanbul, Gaziantep and Ankara, during which he observed a “diverse and dynamic civil society” – and added: “That is precisely why I wish Turkey a dynamic, democratic and European-oriented development.”

Erdogan: “One-two is a valuable step”

President Erdogan, who addressed his guest as “dear friend,” also expressed his desire to strengthen relations. He sees potential in the exchange of goods, in the growth of the tourism sector and in closer cooperation on arms issues, where there are currently still “restrictions”. Erdogan expressly welcomed the new German citizenship law, which generally allows dual passports, as a “valuable step”. At the same time, however, he was “increasingly concerned about xenophobic, Islamophobic, right-wing extremist and racist actions in Europe,” said the Turkish president. He referred to the arson attack on a house in Solingen, in which four people were killed on March 25 this year. Erdogan said he expected “this heinous incident to be clarified.”

An important topic of discussion between the two presidents was the Gaza conflict, on which Berlin and Ankara “may not have the same opinion on many things,” said Steinmeier. Erdogan supports the radical Islamic Palestinian organization Hamas, and a few days ago he received its foreign chief Ismail Hanija. Germany classifies Hamas as a terrorist organization. Erdogan criticized “Israel’s aggression” as a threat to the security of the region – he did not criticize Hamas. On the sidelines of the visit there were repeated protests against Germany’s support for Israel. A small group of demonstrators expressed their displeasure during Steinmeier’s visit to Ankara University; One poster read “We don’t need Zionists here.”

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