German weekly magazine Stern has referred to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as an “arsonist” on the cover of its latest issue, saying the president is stoking dangerous conflicts, including in Germany, in order to secure power as he readies for elections in May.
"#Erdogan – der Brandstifter. Um sich die Macht zu sichern, schürt der türkische Präsident gefährliche Konflikte – auch in Deutschland". Der neue #stern ist ab Donnerstag am Kiosk erhältlich – und ab sofort auch bei uns im Shop: https://t.co/DxzGH5YMLi pic.twitter.com/moHUnJxwnE
— stern (@sternde) January 25, 2023
The magazine on Thursday published a 10-page file on Turkey, including an extensive series of analyses of Erdoğan’s policies and the upcoming elections, arguing that the president is “struggling” to stay in power and wants to consolidate his position as a “troublemaker” and “provocateur,” both nationally and internationally, by stoking conflicts in Turkey, Syria and Germany.
“It is known that he [Erdoğan] wants to use his influence on the Turks of Germany in the upcoming election campaign. He also wants to remain a provocateur and an arsonist both at the national and international level,” Birgün daily columnist Gürsel Köksal quoted Stern Editor-in-Chief Gregor Peter Schmitz as saying in his editorial.
According to a report by the Sözcü daily on Thursday, the magazine also defined Erdoğan as a figure who can raise and calm conflicts in the international arena when necessary and as a “gambler” who can use certain situations to his advantage.
“[Erdoğan is] negotiating with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and the West, belittling NATO and starting a war in Syria,” Stern said, adding that he has to fight relentlessly for power at home, too.
Stern also said some experts speculate that Erdoğan may remain in power despite losing the elections since his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its far-right ally, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), are “so entrenched in the military and police forces.”
The magazine further said Erdoğan needs every vote in the upcoming elections, and therefore, focuses on social media, which he doesn’t like, while Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and a possible presidential candidate of the country’s largest opposition bloc, stands out with his “unifying personality.”
Stern quoted the CHP leader as saying that Erdoğan has become an “autocrat” and that he can’t do anything for the benefit of society with such a way of governing.
Stern also said the signs that Erdoğan’s election campaign will be “tough” are also seen in Germany, referring to AKP MP Mustafa Açıkgöz’s controversial speech during an event in the German city of Neuss earlier this month, in which he called for the “destruction” of the supporters of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the faith-based Gülen movement.
Açıkgöz’s speech led scores of people in Germany to file a criminal complaint against the MP, and the German Foreign Ministry warned the Turkish ambassador, saying that “hate speech has no place in Germany” and that what Açıkgöz did in Neuss “must not be repeated.”
According to a report by the RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland (RND) on Thursday, Erdoğan canceled a visit to Berlin scheduled for Friday after the German government called on him to publicly criticize the lawmaker’s speech.
Stern’s file on Turkey comes a week after the UK’s leading magazine The Economist featured Erdoğan on its cover, arguing that Turkey is on the brink of disaster under its “increasingly erratic president” and that Erdoğan’s behavior as the election approaches “could push what is today a deeply flawed democracy over the edge into a full-blown dictatorship.”