Turkish President Erdogan to meet Angela Merkel amid tensions
It will be Erdogan's first official visit to Germany since becoming president in 2014, and follows a prolonged bout of tensions sparked by Berlin's criticism of his crackdown on opponents in the wake of a failed 2016 coup.
"The main goal of this visit is to completely leave behind this period (of tensions)," Erdogan told Turkish media.
The Turkish leader will land in Berlin Thursday and hold talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel over the following two days.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier will welcome him with military honours and a state dinner at Bellevue Palace on Friday, which several opposition politicians have vowed to boycott. Merkel too will be notably absent.
On Saturday, Erdogan will travel to Cologne to open one of Europe's largest mosques, commissioned by the Turkish-controlled Ditib organisation.
Commentators have been quick to point out that Erdogan's push for a fresh start comes as the Turkish economy is struggling and relations with the United States have worsened.
Thousands of Erdogan critics have vowed to take to the streets across Germany to protest everything from Turkey's record on human rights and press freedom to its offensive against Kurdish militia in Syria.
Some 10,000 people are expected to rally under the motto "Erdogan Not Welcome" in Berlin on Friday alone.
With no shortage of political and economic issues hanging over the visit, the shadow of football also looms large.
Relations between the two NATO countries plummeted after Turkish authorities arrested tens of thousands of people in a mass purge over the attempted putsch against Erdogan, including some who were also German nationals.
But a gradual rapprochement began after German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yucel was freed earlier this year, while journalist Mesale Tolu was allowed to return to Germany last month. Both still face terror-related charges in Turkey.
Merkel, whose country is home to a three-million-strong Turkish community, has repeatedly stressed the importance of good relations with Ankara, a partner she relies on to help stem the flow of migrants arriving on European shores.
But Germany's best-selling Bild newspaper said it was too soon to roll out the red carpet for Erdogan, who just 18 months ago accused Berlin of "Nazi practices" for blocking rallies supporting him ahead of a referendum that gave him sweeping new powers.
"This is too much pomp and ceremony for Erdogan. We're not there yet."
Erdogan said he would use the visit to press Germany for "more efficiency" in the fight against "militants groups" like the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the movement of Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara blames for the coup.
Die Welt reporter Yucel, who spent over a year behind Turkish bars, condemned Berlin for "inviting a criminal to a banquet".
"The German government is betraying all those in Turkey who long for a free, democratic and secular society," he said.
- Pakistan's rights minister Shireen Mazari says ‘ashamed’ of ...09:58 PM | 20 Oct, 2021
- Four dead as IED blast hits security vehicle in Bajaur09:28 PM | 20 Oct, 2021
- T20 World Cup: Fakhar Zaman's fifty guides Pakistan to mammoth total ...08:44 PM | 20 Oct, 2021
- Cdre Habibur Rehman promoted to rank of Rear Admiral: Pakistan Navy08:29 PM | 20 Oct, 2021
- Ex-cricketer Michael Slater arrested in Sydney07:59 PM | 20 Oct, 2021
- Mansha Pasha celebrates birthday with friends and family04:36 PM | 20 Oct, 2021
- Drugs case: Aryan Khan’s bail plea rejected by Mumbai court03:25 PM | 20 Oct, 2021
- Ayesha Omar and Shoaib Malik’s new bold photos set internet on fire02:00 PM | 20 Oct, 2021
- Pakistani celebrities who passed away in 202102:00 PM | 17 Oct, 2021
- India falls to 101 in Global Hunger Index 2021, 9 ranks below Pakistan10:54 AM | 16 Oct, 2021
- Celebrity deaths in 202111:59 PM | 12 Oct, 2021
- Hollywood stars with surprising hidden talents07:11 PM | 13 Sep, 2021