Germany, EU dismiss complaints by Turkey’s Erdogan about satire that mocked him

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan does not like to be ridiculed and has gone to great lengths, including pursuing criminal charges, to ensure no Turkish citizen publicly criticizes him.

Now, the Turkish leader is steamed at a German TV satire that mocked him and the president responded by filing a protest with Germany and the European Union. But Erdogan quickly found his power to shut down dissent does not extend beyond his country’s borders.

The protest was instantly rejected where free speech and freedom of the press remain sacrosanct.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. /Getty Images
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. /Getty Images

“(It has been) made clear that despite all the interests Germany and Turkey share, the view on press freedom, freedom of expression is non-negotiable for us,” a spokeswoman for Germany’s Foreign Ministry said on March 30, according to Reuters.

The president had instructed Turkey’s Foreign Ministry to summon Germany’s envoy to explain an NDR broadcast that featured a two-minute song that poked fun at Erdogan.

The clip, entitled “Erdowie, Erdowo, Erdogan”, set to the tune of German pop star Nena’s 1984 love song “Irgendwie, Irgendwo, Irgendwann”, ridiculed the president, his alleged extravagant spending and his crackdown on civil liberties in Turkey.

The EU said that summoning the German envoy was not in line with the EU’s cherished freedoms of the press and of expression.

“(European Commission President Jean-Claude) Juncker believes this moves Turkey further (away) from the EU rather than closer to us,” an EU spokeswoman said, adding that the EU expected Turkey to “uphold the highest standards on democracy, rule of law and freedoms.”

France’s foreign ministry said freedom of expression was a fundamental tenet of democracy and “even more so for a member of the Council of Europe and a candidate for the European Union.”

Turkish prosecutors have opened nearly 2,000 cases against people for insulting Erdogan since he became president 18 months ago, the country’s justice minister said. Those charged include cartoonists, journalists, academics and even schoolchildren.

The incident comes at a time when German Chancellor Angela Merkel is actively seeking closer ties with Turkey, a candidate for European Union membership, whose help she needs in solving Europe’s migrant crisis.

Merkel led efforts to seal a controversial EU deal with Turkey in early March that was intended to halt illegal migration flows to Europe in return for financial and political rewards for Ankara.

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