World Bulletin / News Desk
A visit by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the German city of Cologne (Koln) on Saturday to address tens of thousands of expatriate Turks is set to attract both pro- and anti-Erdogan demonstrators from the Turkish expatriate community as well as the wider German society.
At least 16,000 supporters are expected at the 10th anniversary of the Union of European Turkish Democrats (UETD), according to Reuters. Other reports expect the 20,000-seater Lanxess Arena to be full, with another 20,000 Erdogan supporters outside.
However, an anti-Erdogan Turkish Alevi group in Germany has said that they will birng 30,000 protesters against his visit on Saturday. Many Turks have particularly criticized Erdogan for going on an official visit abroad so soon after the Soma mine disaster in western Turkey killed 301 miners.
"We want to show Erdogan that he has more opponents in Germany than supporters and that here we can demonstrate, unlike in Turkey. We want him to see there is a democratic culture here, and he is undemocratic," Yilmaz Karaman, a spokesman for Germany's Alevi Community, told Reuters.
A German far-right party also plans to protest against Erdogan's visit nearby, according to Turkey's Yeni Safak newspaper, which warned that the permissing of an anti-Muslim group to gather just 800 meters away from the gathering was a 'trap'.
Merkel told the Saarbruecker Zeitung paper in an interview published on Friday: "I assume he knows how sensitive this event is, especially this time, and that he will act responsibly," but she acknowledged Berlin was "concerned about some developments in Turkey, such as actions against demonstrators, attacks on social networks and the situation for Christians".
The UETD says their anniversary event will be sombre in tone to reflect mourning for the miners and it is unrelated to the presidential poll. But critics feel Erdogan's very appearance in Germany is inevitably an appeal for support from expatriate Turks, significant voters after changes to the electoral system.
Some 3 million people of Turkish origin live in Germany and 1.4 million Turkish citizens can vote, a number equivalent to the electorate of Turkey's fifth largest city Adana, according to the Institute of Turkish Studies and Integration (ZfTI).
Under previous rules, expats could only vote at Turkey's borders. Around 62 percent of those who did in 2011 backed Erdogan's AK Party, but few of those eligible voted.
In February, Erdogan addressed a crowd of thousands of supporters waving Turkish flags in the German capital Berlin ahead of the Turkish local elections.Last Mod: 23 Mayıs 2014, 15:46