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    Thursday, July 4, 2024

    Erdogan to Attend Euro 2024 Match As Diplomatic Row Spirals

    The presence of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Germany for his country’s Euro 2024 quarter-final match on Saturday has been confirmed by the presidency to AFP, amid ongoing tensions between Ankara and Berlin stemming from a celebratory gesture made by a Turkish footballer..

    On Thursday morning, Germany called in Turkey’s ambassador to Berlin due to a growing diplomatic dispute that started when Turkish football player Merih Demiral allegedly made an extreme nationalist hand gesture during his team’s victory over Austria.

    As the host of Euro 2024, the German Foreign Ministry expressed in a tweet that the intention is to leverage the power of sports to foster unity and camaraderie among individuals.

    On the preceding day, Turkey had formally requested the presence of the German ambassador in Ankara.

    Following his second goal in Turkey’s 2-1 win against Austria on Tuesday, Demiral made a gesture that is associated with a Turkish nationalist organization.

    His actions prompted UEFA to initiate an investigation into “inappropriate behavior,” drawing criticism from German officials. However, Ankara swiftly labeled Berlin’s response as “xenophobic.”

    The Interior Minister of Germany, Nancy Faeser, expressed her concern regarding the presence of symbols associated with Turkish right-wing extremism in stadiums. She emphasized that utilizing the European football championships as a platform for racism is unacceptable and goes against the values of sportsmanship and fair play.

    Although President Erdogan has not yet personally addressed the controversy, numerous government ministers and the spokesperson for his governing AKP party have denounced Ms. Faeser’s response.

    Accusing German authorities of “xenophobia”, Turkey's Foreign Ministry highlighted that the domestic intelligence agency of Germany had underscored in Its report that not every individual displaying the grey wolf gesture can be categorized as a far-right extremist.

    “We condemn the politically motivated reactions to the use of a historical and cultural symbol in a way that does not target anyone during the celebration at a sports event,” it added.

    ‘No hidden message’

    The Grey Wolves, considered the militant arm of Turkey’s Movement Party (MHP), faces bans in France and Austria but not in Germany.

    The organization promoted extreme ideologies and resorted to physical aggression during the 1980s targeting progressive campaigners and minority groups.

    In a post-game interview in Leipzig, Demiral clarified that his celebratory actions did not convey any covert or underlying messages.

    “The way I celebrated had something to do with my Turkish identity,” said Demiral, who was man of the match after scoring both Turkey’s goals.

    “We are all Turks, I am very proud to be Turkish and that is the meaning of this gesture.”

    The defender reported that he observed Turkish supporters in the stands performing the salute.

    “I just wanted to demonstrate how happy I am and how proud I am,” Demiral said, adding that he hoped there would be “even more opportunities to show this gesture.”

    The Turkish diaspora In Germany is the largest in the world, and the quarter-final match between Turkey and the Netherlands at the Olympiastadion in Berlin will be of great interest to this community.

    The diplomatic relations between the two nations have historically been strained, with Berlin expressing concerns over President Erdogan’s suppression of domestic dissent. Nevertheless, it is acknowledged that securing the cooperation of Turkey, a regional power, is essential in addressing complex regional challenges.

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