Turkish PM urges for 'integration', slams critics in Germany

Turkey's Tayyip Erdogan told a cheering arena of diaspora supporters in Germany to integrate but not assimilate and slammed German criticism, in a defiant hour-long speech.

Turkish PM urges for 'integration', slams critics in Germany

World Bulletin/News Desk

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Saturday on Turks in Europe to integrate into the societies in which they live. He rejected, however, the idea of "assimilation" as he addressed the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Union of European Turkish Democrats, a Cologne-based lobbying group.

"Assimilation? No. I have said this before and I'm saying it again - we don't compromise our language, religion and culture."

"We have been missing you for the years you have been missing us away from your motherland," Erdogan said. "I pay you my gratitude on behalf of my nation for your labor, patience and wisdom. We are proud of you as a nation."

"The alliance of some media organizations and foreign forces was meaningful after the Soma coal mine disaster in western Turkey," the prime minister said.

"Tayyip Erdogan knows the smell of those coal mines. I have been inside those mines and have walked 4-5 kilometres in them," he added.

"Foreign leaders should recognize the democratic will of our people and congratulate us, as we do after their elections."

"Why are none of the European countries condemning the Egyptian death sentences, and why cannot they call a coup a coup?" asked Erdogan.

The Turkish leader went on to condemn the "lies and intrigue" spread by his opponents, calling this "black propaganda".

He said Turkey was an integral part of Europe and racist attacks in Europe would be curbed with the participation of Turkey in the European Union.

"European political problems will not be solved by using Turkey, but by including Turkey," Erdogan said.

The prime minister praised the contributions of the expatriates in Germany.

"The gross worth of the Turkish entrepreneurs in Germany is €40 billion," he said. "They have 400,000 jobs and Turkey's trade volume with Germany has reached $30 billion."

"Four million German tourists visit Turkey every year and a number of Germans have settled in Turkey,” he said. "We will work together for the wellbeing of Turkey, Germany and other European countries”

Erdogan said he was grateful for the condolences of expatriates for the victims of the Soma coal mine disaster in western Turkey on May 13, in which 301 workers were killed.

Erdogan accused what he called "illegal" groups, including opposition lawmakers, of "trying to gain political mileage" from the disaster.

He criticized some German media outlets for carrying out “black propaganda” against him and his government following the tragedy in Soma. "Unfortunately, some media outlets here are using insults against the prime minister of Turkey in order to exploit the Soma tragedy,” he said.

Referring to different protesting groups outside the arena Erdogan said, “The protesters outside are also our brothers. We will leave here with grace and dignity, without being provoked and will preserve our fraternity at any cost.”

Several non-governmental organizations and political groups had registered to hold counter-demonstrations Saturday in Cologne.

The European Federation of Alevi Communities, which has been critical of the Erdogan government's policies, held a mass rally in Cologne’s Ebertplatz, three kilometers from the Lanxess Arena congress center, where Erdogan held his rally.

The anti-immigrant pro North Rhine Westphalia party organized a protest at Deutz Train Station, about 400 meters from the Lanxess Arena.

Critics said Erdogan's very appearance in Germany was inevitably an appeal for support from expatriate Turks, significant voters after changes to the electoral system. He was introduced in Cologne as the "architect of the new Turkey".

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.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 24 Mayıs 2014, 23:52

Muhammed Öylek