German minister: No regrets about calling Turkey a ‘hub for Islamists’

Thomas de Maiziere defended a leaked government report alleging Turkey was a hub for militant groups, a charge that has further strained tensions with Ankara

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German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere on Wednesday defended a leaked government report alleging Turkey was a ‘hub for Islamists’, a charge that has further strained tensions with Ankara, a key partner in efforts to stem mass migration.

Turkey and Germany have had a series of disputes in recent months, just as the European Union has been trying to secure Turkey’s help in tackling the influx of migrants to Europe, of which Germany has taken in the bulk.

The government report, disclosed by German public broadcaster ARD this week, said Turkey had become a hub for Islamist groups and that President Tayyip Erdogan had an “ideological affinity” to Hamas in Gaza, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and groups of armed Islamist opposition in Syria.

De Maiziere told German regional broadcaster rbb: “There’s nothing to regret,” when asked if he regretted the paper. He said the report showed one aspect of Turkey but that there were other aspects beyond that.

Government spokesman Steffen Seibert declined to comment on the report but he said Berlin still viewed Ankara as a partner in the fight against ISIS.

Turkey reacted with fury to the report.

“The allegations are a new manifestation of the twisted mentality, which for some time has been trying to wear down our country, by targeting our president and government,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Earlier this year, Erdogan reacted angrily to the broadcast of a satirical song about him on German television and launched legal action against the comedian who wrote it.

Another row followed weeks later when the German parliament passed a resolution declaring the 1915 massacre of Armenians by Ottoman forces a genocide.

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said Germany was guilty of double standards and that it should be more supportive of Turkey in its fight against the militant Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), listed as a terrorist group by the European Union and the United States.

“It is obvious that behind these allegations are some political circles in Germany known for their double-standard attitudes in the fight against terror,” the ministry said in the statement.

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