Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Berlin visit was aimed at deepening bilateral cooperation, finalizing defense deals and shoring up trade between Turkey and Germany. But at the press conference on Friday while standing next to his counterpart Olaf Scholz, the visit took a tense turn as the Turkish leader lashed out at a German reporter over the war in Gaza.
“Is [Israel] striking places of worship? It does. Is it striking churches? It does. As a Muslim, I’m troubled by these. As a Christian, aren’t you troubled by strikes against churches? Why don't you speak up against these?” Erdogan snapped back at the German reporter who raised Turkey’s “genocide” accusations against the Jewish state.
Erdogan’s Berlin visit comes amid widening disagreements between Turkey and Germany over the Israel-Hamas war. On Wednesday, the Turkish president called Israel “a terror state", triggering calls for Scholz from his coalition partners and political rivals alike to cancel the visit. The German leader pushed back, labeling Erdogan’s accusations “absurd.” German media reported more than 2,000 police officers were deployed along Erdogan's route and around Bellevue Palace, where he met with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.