German Minister of State for Europe Michael Roth has said that his country would willingly accept asylum requests from Turks who are subject to persecution at home.
Germany is “open to all those politically persecuted as a matter of principle,” he has told German media.
While the relevant government authorities are tasked with processing asylum requests, the Social Democratic Party (SPD) member stressed in an interview with German newspaper Die Welt that the government would willingly accept applications.
Roth said that “the Foreign Office stands in solidarity with all critical intellectuals in Turkey.”
“Germany is an outward-looking country and is open to all those who are politically persecuted as a matter of principle,” he said. “They can apply for asylum in Germany. That applies not just to journalists.”
Roth also spoke out against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s crackdown against opposition lawmakers and critical journalists and academics.
“What is happening in Turkey goes against our understanding of European values, rule of law, democracy and media freedom,” Roth said. “That is why our response to the Turkish government is crystal clear: Not this way!”
Turkish courts on Friday arrested nine pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputies including the party’s Co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, who were detained in the early hours of Friday following police raids on their homes. The HDP deputies were arrested after they refused to testify about alleged crimes linked to “terrorist propaganda.” One more HDP deputy was arrested on Monday.
Last week, the Turkish government also cracked down on the opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper, detaining eight journalists including the paper’s editor-in-chief Murat Sabuncu.
Ankara reacts Berlin
Roth’s remarks attracted criticism from Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu who accused Germany of being a leading supporter of militant opposition groups, such as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and far-leftist Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front ( DHKP/C), both of which have carried out attacks in Turkey.
“Germany thinks that they are a first class country, a first class democracy, and that Turkey is second class,” Çavuşoğlu said. “We want them to treat us as equal partners.”
Roth also hinted that the European Union’s report concerning Turkey’s accession to the bloc, due to be published on Wednesday, would bear a negative conclusion. “The EU Commission is becoming very discerning and critical about what is working badly – or not at all – in Turkey,” the SPD politician said.
“Unfortunately, that currently encompasses many things.”
However, Roth warned against ending membership negotiations. “Such a step would isolate a currently Westward-oriented Turkey.”