Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

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Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (2017)
Signature of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan  [ ɾɛˈd͡ʒɛp taˈjip ɛɾdoˈan ] (born February 26, 1954 in Istanbul ) is a Turkish politician ( AKP ) and since August 28, 2014 the twelfth President of the Republic of Turkey . Please click to listen!Play

From 1994 to 1998 he was Lord Mayor of Istanbul . In 1999 he was detained for four months. From 2001 to 2014 he was and since 2017 he has been the AKP chairman again. From 2003 to 2014 he was Prime Minister of Turkey, most recently with his third cabinet . The constitutional referendum of 2017 introduced a presidential system in Turkey with the presidential and parliamentary elections in July 2018 .

After an initial phase of democratization, democratic standards and the rule of law in Turkey were increasingly restricted under Erdoğan's presidency.

Life and entry into politics

Origin, education and family

Erdoğan is the son of Ahmet and Tenzile Erdoğan. According to his own statement, he comes from a Georgian family from Rize in northeastern Turkey who immigrated from Batumi and settled in the greater Istanbul area. The father was a seaman and worked as a coastal skipper and for the Turkish Coast Guard . He named the son Recep after the month he was born , the seventh month of the Islamic calendar , and gave him the grandfather's Tayyip as his middle name. Erdoğan was born in the old Istanbul port district of Kasımpaşa ( Beyoğlu district ) and grew up there and in Rize with three brothers, a sister and his cousin Danny "Talât" Torosoğlu.

Erdoğan with his wife Emine Erdoğan (center) and daughter Sümeyye (center right) together with the Greek Prime Minister Giorgos Papandreou and his former wife

After primary school, Erdoğan attended an Imam Hatip school . In Turkey, these are religiously oriented technical schools. The young Erdoğan was nicknamed the “Koran Nightingale” because of his deep religiosity. He completed his school education with a technical diploma for imams . He then studied at İstanbul İktisadi ve Ticari İlimler Akademisi . The graduation in 1981 and the value of the course and the corresponding diploma have been in doubt since 2016. (See: Doubts about the academic degree )

Erdoğan has been with Emine Erdoğan , b. Gülbaran, married; the couple have two sons, Ahmet Burak and Necmeddin Bilal , and two daughters, Esra and Sümeyye. The daughters studied in the USA. Esra has been married to Berat Albayrak , Minister for Energy and Natural Resources in the Davutoğlu III cabinet , since 2004 .

Party offices

On October 11, 1972, Necmettin Erbakan founded the National Salvation Party (MSP), which is assigned to the spectrum of the religious-conservative right and was involved in three coalition governments by the end of the 1970s.

In 1984 Erdoğan moved up to the board of the successor party, the Welfare Party (RP), which had been established in the meantime , and became deputy chairman. After they were banned, he belonged to the next successor party , the Virtue Party (FP), until he left in 1998 . In 2001 he founded the Justice and Recovery Party (AKP) with other former members of the Virtue Party ; he was last confirmed as party leader at the end of September 2012.

Due to his election as president, Erdoğan had to resign from the party chairmanship in August 2014, as required by law. After the separation of the two offices was lifted in the spring of 2017 as part of an amendment to the constitution , he was re-elected party chairman at a special party conference on May 21, 2017.

Lord Mayor of Istanbul

As a result of the ISKI scandal , Erdoğan, who was initially considered to have no chance, was given the opportunity to win the elections in Istanbul and thus began his political career.

In 1994 the Welfare Party nominated Erdoğan as a candidate for the office of Lord Mayor of Istanbul, against Erbakan's will . He surprisingly won the election and succeeded Nurettin Sözen . In the early phase of his tenure, he pursued a conservative policy that corresponded to the orientation of his constituency, who were arrested in the religious-conservative milieu. Alcohol has not been served in city bars since his tenure (but this is still possible in private restaurants). During his time as mayor, Erdoğan made a much quoted statement at a press conference: It is not possible to be secular and a Muslim at the same time (“Hem laik hem Müslüman olunmaz”). In an interview with Milliyet newspaper , he described himself as a follower of Sharia law . In a Sunday conversation with Nilgün Cerrahoğlu, when asked what the welfare party's commitment to democracy looked like, he replied: “Perfect. But is democracy the end or the means? [...] We believe that democracy is not the end, but the means. "

Other religious projects involved the introduction of separate bathing areas for women or separate school buses for boys and girls. In addition, he earned a reputation among the population with a pragmatic local policy. More successful local government initiatives have included upgrading infrastructure (e.g. maintaining power and water lines) and improving public services, such as municipal waste disposal services.

His foreign policy attitude towards joining the EU during his time as mayor differs significantly from his later policy as prime minister. In 1994 he spoke out against joining the EU. To this end, he described the EU as an “association of Christians” in which the “Turks had no place”.

Prison sentence

In January 1998 the Turkish Constitutional Court banned the Welfare Party . She was accused of sympathizing with jihad and the introduction of Sharia law, which contradicted the state principle of secularism .

The founder of the Welfare Party, Necmettin Erbakan, was banned from political activity for five years. Erdoğan then switched to the successor party Virtue Party , which almost all members of the previous Welfare Party joined and for whose chairmanship he was considered a serious candidate, but which Recai Kutan ultimately took over.

There was deep mutual distrust between Erbakan and his party friends, including Erdoğan, and the Turkish army. The army saw itself as the guardian of the secular order and as the guardian of the principles of state founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk . It stands for the strict separation of religion and state. Erdoğan, on the other hand, forbids any interference in political affairs and makes it clear or postulates that “the general staff is under the authority of the prime minister”.

On April 21, 1998 Erdoğan was sentenced to ten months in prison by State Security Court No. 3 in Diyarbakır for inciting the population to hatred and enmity with reference to differences in religion and race according to Art. 312, Paragraph 2, 59, Paragraph 2 of the Turkish Penal Code and sentenced to a "heavy fine" of 716,666,666 lira. The Court of Cassation upheld the judgment on October 23, 1998. Erdoğan was thus able to recover according to Art. 76 para. 2 (old version) of the Constitution and Art. 11 lit. f No. 3 (old) of the Law on the Election of Members of the Representatives could no longer be elected and consequently, according to Art. 8, Paragraph 1 (old) of the Law on Political Parties, he could no longer be considered a founder of a political party. The occasion was a speech given at a meeting in the eastern Anatolian city ​​of Siirt at the end of 1997 , in which he supposedly quoted from a work by Ziya Gökalp : “Minarets [are] bayonets, domes [are] helmets, mosques [are] our barracks, believers [ are] soldiers ”.

Erdoğan began serving the sentence in March 1999 and was released on July 24, 1999 after four months. Some observers are of the opinion that he broke away from his political foster father Erbakan. Critics accuse him and his AKP, however, of wanting to enforce the "rule of Islam" in Turkey.

When the Virtue Party was banned on June 22, 2001 for the same reasons as its predecessor, Erdoğan gathered forces for democratic reform among the religious and shortly afterwards founded the Justice and Recovery Party (AKP), which clearly set itself apart from Erbakan's political convictions.

Prime Minister

Foreign trips by Prime Minister Erdoğan
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the White House between Colin Powell (left) and George W. Bush (right), December 10, 2002
Erdoğan at a meeting with opposition leader Deniz Baykal from the Republican People's Party (CHP)

Victory in 2002

In the parliamentary elections in 2002 he achieved an overwhelming victory with his AKP, but was unable to take over the office of prime minister due to the existing political ban. According to the legal situation at the time, only one member of parliament could be elected Prime Minister. Therefore, his deputy, Abdullah Gül, became prime minister. Only after a constitutional amendment that lifted his political ban and the cancellation of the election in the province of Siirt was he able to move into parliament as a member. He became Prime Minister on March 12, 2003, and Gül took over the post of Foreign Minister.

Initially, the parliament passed extensive reforms to democratize the country. The death penalty was abolished, freedom of expression expanded, and the fight against torture intensified. The situation of the Kurds was improved by the admission of Kurdish language courses and TV programs. Erdoğan also operated a rapprochement with Armenia at this time . He invited the Armenian government to establish a historians' commission consisting of Turkish and Armenian scholars to deal with the genocide of the Armenians , which he personally denies.

In terms of foreign policy, Erdoğan only initially pursued Turkey's further rapprochement with the EU with the aim of early accession , which was in clear contrast to his earlier positions. Under his leadership, Turkey's relationship with its eastern neighbors improved significantly. Relations with the Syrian regime were considered to be extremely good until the civil war in Syria .

Parliamentary elections in 2007 and 2011

Under Erdoğan's leadership, the AKP achieved 46.58 percent of the vote in the 2007 parliamentary elections, an absolute majority in parliament. Erdoğan said at the time that he wanted to maintain continuity in foreign policy with regard to the European course. From August 29, 2007, he headed the second Erdoğan cabinet .

In the 2011 parliamentary election , the AKP under Erdoğan achieved 49.84 percent and thus 327 seats in the National Assembly, but failed to achieve the two-thirds majority that would have been necessary to change the constitution without other parties and referendums . From July 5, 2011 to August 28, 2014, he headed Erdoğan's third cabinet and switched to the office of President on August 29, 2014. His successor as Prime Minister was Ahmet Davutoğlu .

Citizen protests 2013

In May 2013, the Erdoğan government used violence against protests against him , which began in Istanbul's Taksim Square and spread to other cities. This approach sparked severe criticism in Turkey. Die Zeit writes: “Prime Minister Erdoğan has protests against tree felling struck down. He acts more and more like a despot, the Turks revolt. "

Corruption scandal from December 2013

In December 2013, the government formed by Erdoğan caught a corruption scandal . As a result, Turkish police investigative authorities arrested the sons of Interior Minister Muammer Guler , European Minister Egemen Bağış , Economics Minister Zafer Çağlayan and Environment Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar . In the days that followed, all four resigned from their posts. A large number of police investigators were fired under pressure from the Erdoğan government.

On February 25, 2014, a telephone conversation was published in the Turkish media that allegedly took place between Erdoğan and his second son Necmeddin Bilal on December 17, 2013. Prime Minister Erdoğan calls it a fake. In contrast, the opposition in Turkey has come to believe that the phone call is real. In this phone call, Erdoğan instructs his son to get the money out of the house as quickly as possible.

Suspected opponents in this affair

Erdoğan himself suspects a conspiracy by the Muslim preacher Fethullah Gülen in these corruption allegations . His Gülen movement , which Erdoğan also blamed for the attempted coup in 2016 two years later , had been trying to form a “state within a state” since 2014 and before that, and wanted him and the AKP before the local or presidential elections on 30 March 2014 damage. Many observers also accept Fethullah Gülen as Erdoğan's opponent and the real mastermind behind the corruption affair.

Publication of telephone calls from February 2014

From February 2014, Erdoğan published two more phone calls, the authenticity of which Erdoğan admitted. In one telephone conversation, Erdoğan instructs his justice minister to bring about a harsh court judgment against the government-critical media entrepreneur Aydın Doğan . Doğan was acquitted of tax evasion charges in court, which Erdoğan was indignant about. In the other telephone conversation Erdoğan called on the President of the Chamber of Shipping Industry to protest against the award of contracts to build warships to a shipyard belonging to Koç Holding . Erdoğan also sees the industrialist Mustafa Koç as his opponent.


Erdoğan in the presidential palace in 2014

After winning the presidential election on August 10, 2014 , Erdoğan was sworn in as the new president on August 28, 2014. From now on, Erdoğan sought to expand the powers of the presidential office. Abdullah Gül , his predecessor in the presidency, is critical of this and pleads for strengthening parliament's rights vis-à-vis the executive. In 2010, Der Spiegel reported on Erdoğan's constitutional reform, according to which the previous parliamentary system was to be converted into a presidential regime with extensive powers for the president.

Erdoğan is residing for the first time in the Presidential Palace (Ak Saray) , a building complex built in the Ataturk Orman Çiftliği nature reserve in Ankara ; The new palace is mainly controversial because it was built illegally ; several courts had banned the construction, most recently the Supreme Administrative Court. Its size (around 1000 rooms) and the immense costs (1.37 billion Turkish Lira, equivalent to around 491 million euros) are also criticized.

Davutoğlu Cabinet

Erdogan with Barack Obama in the White House

On August 28, 2014, President Erdoğan entrusted Ahmet Davutoğlu with forming a government for the remainder of the electoral term . In the election campaign for the parliamentary elections on June 7, 2015, he campaigned for votes for the AKP, although as President he would have to break off relations with his old party under Article 101 of the constitution (although the AKP was the only relevant party to support his goal of introducing a Presidential system). The goal of the AKP to get a two-thirds majority of the mandates for a constitutional amendment or at least a 3/5 majority of the mandates for the initiation of a referendum, however, was clearly missed. Ahmet Davutoğlu was tasked with forming a government, and after he was unable to reach a coalition and returned the contract, President Erdoğan set the election of the National Assembly for November 1, 2015. In the new election, the AKP, with its prime minister candidate Davutoğlu, achieved 49.5% of the votes and won an absolute majority in parliament with 317 of 550 seats. Ahmet Davutoğlu was then again commissioned by President Erdoğan to form a government.

At the beginning of May 2016, those around the president publicly criticized the work of Prime Minister and party leader Davutoğlu. Davutoğlu had expressed himself critical of a constitutional change in the direction of the presidential system. On May 5, Davutoğlu announced that he would no longer run for party leadership at the AKP's special party conference on May 22, which also meant his withdrawal from the office of prime minister, and justified this with differences in the party executive. After his successor, Binali Yıldırım, was elected party leader on May 22 , Davutoğlu submitted his resignation as prime minister.

Cabinet Yıldırım

After Davutoğlu's resignation, Erdoğan entrusted the new AKP party leader Binali Yıldırım with the formation of a new government on May 22, 2016. This was confirmed in office by Parliament on May 29th with 315 votes.

State of emergency and persecution of the opposition

The Turkish parliament was shot at and bombed several times by F-16 fighter jets while the parliamentarians were still working in the building

On the evening of July 15, 2016, there was a coup attempt by parts of the military . The attempted coup had no support from the population or from the political opposition and only little support in the military. The next day the coup collapsed. The government made the Gülen movement responsible for the coup attempt at an early stage , which it rejected.

After the attempted coup, parliament first passed a three-month state of emergency , which gives the government under Prime Minister Yıldırım and the president greater powers, which the government makes extensive use of when dismissing members of the public sector. The state of emergency was then extended several times for three months each time. First at the beginning of October, then at the beginning of 2017 on the occasion of the attack on the Reina nightclub in Istanbul on New Year's Eve 2016/2017, so that it included the day of the later constitutional referendum . One day after the referendum, the state of emergency was again extended by three months.

81,494 people were dismissed from civil service during the state of emergency. 11 MPs and 1,400 functionaries of the opposition party HDP were arrested. Since the attempted coup in 2016, more than 50,000 suspects have been held in custody for alleged links to the Gülen movement, including 8,816 police officers, 6,982 soldiers (167 generals), 2,431 judges and prosecutors and 23 provincial governors.

Constitutional referendum 2017

On April 16, there was a referendum on constitutional amendments . This was initiated by the AKP together with the MHP , who were authorized to do so with their joint three-fifths majority. When voting, voters decided whether 69 articles of the constitution should be changed. The main aim was to bundle executive powers and to have more influence over the judiciary in the hands of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. This was accompanied by a change in the form of government from a parliamentary system of government to a presidential system. The Venice Commission of the Council of Europe warned in advance of a “personal regime” and spoke of the danger of sliding into a dictatorial system.

The referendum ended with 51.41% per constitutional amendment. The opposition spoke of electoral fraud and referred to the High Election Committee , which on the (early) election day declared ballot papers and envelopes without such a stamp to be valid. With this, up to three million votes in favor of the “yes camp” were brought about. Research results from Viennese statisticians from the Complexity Science Hub Vienna also suggest that the election was decided by electoral fraud .

On April 18, 2018, about a year after the constitutional referendum, Erdoğan announced early parliamentary and presidential elections for June 24, 2018 . He agreed on this with the MHP chairman Devlet Bahçeli .

General election and presidential election 2018

In the election on June 24, 2018, Erdoğan received 52.6% of the votes cast . At the same time, the constitutional amendments came into force; the Council of Ministers chaired by the Prime Minister was abolished as a state organ. Erdoğan has been head of state and the executive branch ever since .

Domestic politics

Inflation rate in Turkey

According to Turkey expert Gareth Jenkins, Erdoğan's policy is again tending towards positioning in the Islamic world. In response to the question asked in an interview in January 2010: “What does he want? If he had a free hand? ”Replied Jenkins:“ He would bring about a more Muslim society in Turkey and establish Turkey as the leader of the Muslim world. With the West he would strive for good neighborly relations, but 'not in the same house', he would seek a distance ”.

In May 2013 Erdoğan praised Necip Fazıl Kısakürek at a parliamentary group meeting of the AKP, in which he stated that he was one of the most important thinkers and action people who produced the country in the 20th century and was a role model for him. The opposition daily Yurt , owned by CHP MP Durdu Özbolat , commented that Erdoğan's speech was shameful because in his book Doğu Yolun Sapık Kolları , Kısakürek called for Alevis , Druze and Yazidis to be "pulled up and thrown away like nettles". In addition, Kısakürek has spread anti-Semitic and anti- Masonic theses in his book Yahudilik-Masonluk- Dönmelik .

Attitude to the genocide against the Armenians

After Erdogan's view has it in the era of the Ottoman Empire no genocide of the Armenians or even a genocide given. When several Turkish professors, journalists and intellectuals started a petition called Özür Diliyorum ("I apologize"), which called for an apology for the massacres from 1915 onwards, Erdoğan criticized this campaign:

“Sorry, what should we apologize for? The people who apologize have apparently committed a crime. The Turkish state does not have this problem. There is nothing for which the state or the government should apologize. "

On Erdogan's arrangement the end of April was the calling for reconciliation between Turks and Armenians in 2011 monument of humanity by Mehmet Aksoy demolished.

Restrictions on freedom of the press and freedom of expression

According to media reports, Erdoğan attempted to intimidate the press by threats and deter further critical reporting in connection with media reports about a money donation abuse process against the deniz Feneri association, which is closely related to the AKP . Thereupon Gavin O'Reilly, chairman of the World Association of Newspapers , and Xavier Vidal-Folch, chairman of the World Forum of Editors-in-Chief (WEF), wrote a joint letter calling on Erdoğan to protect press freedom and to refrain from intimidation. According to a newspaper article in the FAZ on September 17, 2008, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe warned that press freedom was endangered by Erdoğan's threats. On the Press Freedom Index , Turkey ranked 138th out of 176 countries surveyed in the 2010 survey.

The magazine Weltspiegel ( ARD ) reported in a broadcast on April 10, 2011 of intimidation and arrests of critical journalists in Turkey.

In April 2011 Erdoğan was summoned to the European Parliament to comment on democratic deficits and increasing restrictions on freedom of the press in Turkey. In October 2012, the European Commission's 2012 progress report criticized the fact that no progress had been made with regard to fundamental rights under Erdoğan's government, on the contrary, freedom of the media was restricted and courts did not judge impartially.

In December 2014, Erdoğan's wave of arrests of numerous journalists critical of the government led to protests by international organizations and politicians from other countries such as the German government spokesman Steffen Seibert . The United States appealed to Turkey not to "violate the country's democratic foundations". The European Union condemned the wave of arrests as "incompatible with media freedom".

The organization Reporters Without Borders has Erdoğan on its list of 35 names or organizations of the “Enemies of Press Freedom 2016” and writes the following about the current situation in Turkey: “Turkey is one of the countries with the most imprisoned journalists in the world. After the attempted coup in July 2016, well over 100 journalists were arrested, around 150 media outlets were closed and more than 700 press cards were canceled. Critical journalists are under general suspicion. The few remaining independent media operate in constant fear. Foreign journalists were repeatedly denied accreditation or denied entry. In addition, the political and economic entanglements of many important media owners stifle critical reporting in the bud. "

State Internet Control

In June 2011, restrictions on internet access (content filtering) supported by Erdoğan led to violent protests inside and outside Turkey. The blocked websites included the video platforms YouTube and Vimeo . In the index for press freedom of the organization Reporters Without Borders , the country fell to 138th place out of 179 (2013: 154) and is therefore comparable to Russia or Afghanistan . Various western politicians, u. a. Dutch MEP Marietje Schaake and her British colleague Richard Howitt criticized the restriction of freedom of expression as a threat to democracy.

In 2013 Erdoğan described the short message service Twitter as a "troublemaker" when protests against his government broke out in the country .

In February 2014, the Turkish parliament passed a law that further tightened state internet controls. Under the new law, the government can block unwanted content and websites without a court order. An alleged invasion of privacy or an insult are sufficient reasons. In addition, the authorities are authorized to record the surfing behavior of Internet users and to store them for two years . The new law has been criticized by opposition parties and journalist organizations as a further restriction on freedom of the press. On the night of March 20-21, 2014, access to Twitter was blocked on the charge that those responsible for the service had ignored court decisions.

After several lawyers' associations and opposition politicians filed a lawsuit, an administrative court in Ankara decided on March 26, 2014 that the order implemented by the telecommunications authority was illegal and should therefore be temporarily suspended. The court set a deadline of 30 days to implement the judgment. Erdoğan, on the other hand, had indicated at an election campaign the day before that he was considering expanding the ban on Facebook and YouTube. On March 27, 2014, the telecommunications authority announced that it had taken administrative measures against the video platform. A short time later, YouTube was no longer accessible. There, on the same day, government critics had previously published a recording of a conversation in which high-ranking politicians and the military discussed the search for an advanced reason to be able to take military action against Syria .

The Turkish provider TTNET , a subsidiary of Türk Telekom, also blocked access to the Tor website , where the anonymization software for this network can be downloaded. This is to prevent sites like YouTube from being reached via a proxy server .

On April 29, 2017 , the Turkish regulatory authority BTK blocked access to all language versions of Wikipedia because Wikipedia was "part of a smear campaign against Turkey on the international stage". The ban was lifted on January 15, 2020 following a court ruling.

Attitude to abortion and the position of women

Erdoğan announced in May 2012 that he would tighten the liberal abortion law that has been in force in Turkey for around 30 years. He referred to abortions as " murder ". Following a UN conference on population development, Erdoğan said: “I am a head of government who is against caesarean sections . I consider abortion to be murder. ”The planned new legislation was protested in Istanbul.

On November 24, 2014, Erdoğan spoke in a speech to the women's association KADEM against full equality between men and women. As a justification, he pointed out that women because of their "petite stature" could not do the same work as men; During pregnancy or breastfeeding , they could not work under the same conditions as men. He went on to explain that Islam provided women with the role of mother. Since feminists do not accept the role of mother, one cannot explain to them the special status of women in Islam. At the same time, he condemned domestic violence against women in Turkey. You violate "against the rules of Islam as a religion of peace".

In May 2016, in a televised speech, he said, “We want a lot more offspring. Others talk about contraception. No Muslim family should do such a thing. ”Nobody can influence God's work; his request is directed primarily at women. A few days later, Erdoğan spoke out against women going to work if they rejected motherhood and housewife in return.

Attitude to the death penalty

Except for war crimes, Turkey abolished the death penalty in 2002 as part of its EU accession efforts, and during Erdoğan's time as prime minister, the death penalty was completely abolished in Turkey in 2004. However, Erdoğan has been campaigning for their reintroduction since 2012. He justifies this with the fact that it is also practiced in countries such as the USA and the People's Republic of China .

Insult to the President

Article 299 of the Turkish Penal Code puts insulting the President under one to four years imprisonment. Prosecution is not possible without authorization from the Minister of Justice. In the first seven months of Erdoğan's tenure as president, the justice minister issued 105 prosecution authorizations for 236 applications. Eight of these were detained. In comparison, during Abdullah Gül's seven-year term of office there were 1359 applications for 545 prosecution authorizations and none of the cases resulted in imprisonment. At the beginning of March 2016, the Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ declared that his ministry had issued authorizations during Erdoğan's term of office in 1845. According to political scientist Kerem Altıparmak, this is an increase of 500 percent compared to Ahmet Necdet Sezer's term in office in 2007. The proceedings affect Facebook entries as well as banners during demonstrations. A court case in Diyarbakır caused a sensation against two children aged 12 and 13 who had torn up an Erdoğan poster and who are now despite an expert opinion that they lacked judgment (cf. Art. 31 (2) tStGB) faced imminent imprisonment. In addition to the criminal cases, Erdoğan's lawyers opened numerous civil lawsuits demanding compensation for insults amounting to many millions of TL . Journalists in and outside Turkey see the investigations and trials as encroaching on freedom of expression and as a means of intimidating the opposition. The lawyer Christian Rumpf writes:

“The fact that a state president enjoys special protection of honor arises from the nature of his office. A regulation like that of Art. 299 StGB ( Cumhurbaşkanına hakaret - Insult to the President of the Republic ) acquires a critical dimension in an environment where the President of the Republic himself exceeds the limits set for him by the constitution and thus gives the public special targets for criticism offers. If the trade-off between the protection of honor on the one hand and freedom of expression on the other hand is not always easy among private individuals, this is even more true in political life. The fact that the prosecution of such an act requires the approval of the Ministry of Justice [sic] raises further questions, because the executive can intervene in the proper functioning of the judiciary, i.e. ultimately decides how far the honor is of the President and where their worthy of protection ends. "

External relations

Foreign trips by President Erdoğan

Relationship with the European Union

Image of Erdoğan (left) on a poster of the European People's Party

During his reign, Erdoğan deviated from the traditionally pro-European and pro-Western policies of previous Turkish governments. The official opening of accession negotiations with the European Union falls during his term of office . His government course is not unconditionally pro-European. Accession negotiations came to a standstill in 2009 and 2010 because Ankara refused to open Turkish ports to Cypriot ships.

According to journalist Maximilian Popp, Erdoğan only approached the Europeans at the beginning of his reign in order to push back the military and the judiciary and to establish religious freedoms. In his foreign policy he tends to go it alone after strong election victories and does not coordinate with his European partners. In view of the EU capability, Der Spiegel calls him an autocrat .

At the end of November 2016, he threatened to let refugees travel to Europe again. ("If you go any further, the borders will be opened, remember that"). Shortly before, the EU Parliament had passed a resolution with a large majority . Erdoğan visited Greece on December 7, 2017. This was the first visit by a Turkish head of state to Greece since 1952.

In the course of the election campaign for the constitutional referendum in 2017 , he increasingly came into confrontation with the EU and its member states such as Germany. He repeatedly provoked with aggressive rhetoric.

Relationship to the autonomous region of Kurdistan in Iraq

After the Turkish government's initial rejection and skepticism that Kurdish autonomy in Iraq could also strengthen the Kurds' aspirations for autonomy in Turkey, close economic and cultural ties were established between the autonomous region of Kurdistan in northern Iraq and Turkey. In an interview with Al-Monitor in March 2016 , Masud Barzani , President of the Autonomous Region of Kurdistan in Northern Iraq, praised the Turkish President as a politician who, like no one else before him, had tried to achieve good relations between Turks and Kurds, and described the AKP , which Erdoğan co-founded, as a historic opportunity for the Kurds for an independent state in peaceful neighborhood to Turkey.

Turkey sent military advisors and soldiers to the autonomous region of Kurdistan to train the regional armed forces, the peshmerga . The central government of Iraq criticized this step in December 2015.

Relationship with neighboring states to the east

Meeting between the leaders of Turkey, Albania, Azerbaijan, Serbia, Bulgaria in Istanbul

At the beginning of his tenure, Erdoğan attached considerable importance to good relations with Turkey's eastern neighbors. During his reign there was a significant upgrade in relations with Syria and Iran . Erdoğan complained that Iran was being treated unfairly by the West in the dispute over Iran's nuclear program . "Those who have nuclear weapons themselves cannot criticize Tehran's nuclear program." Mahmud Ahmadineschād is "without a doubt our friend".

Relationship with Arab States

Erdoğan defended Sudan's head of state Omar al-Bashir , against whom the International Criminal Court in The Hague had issued an arrest warrant for crimes against humanity and war crimes in the ongoing Darfur conflict , with the words: "A Muslim cannot commit genocide."

After the removal of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi (July 2013), relations between Turkey and Egypt initially cooled off considerably. Erdoğan called the 2013 coup in Egypt a coup d'état and accused Israel of being involved.

In the Libyan civil war , despite an embargo imposed by a UN resolution, he supplied the conflicting party in Fayiz al-Sarradsch with weapons and Syrian mercenaries and thus had a massive influence on the course of the war.

Comments on Israel and Zionism

In contrast to his predecessors, Erdoğan takes a negative stance on Israel. Erdoğan accused the Israeli government of “inhuman state terrorism” and “violations of international law” for its actions against the Gaza aid fleet. The Palestinian movement Hamas from the Gaza Strip is not classified by Erdoğan as a terrorist group.

In February 2013 Erdoğan was heavily criticized by the US and Israel for his statement that Zionism was a “ crime against humanity ”. Literally he said at a United Nations conference in Vienna on February 27, 2013 : "Just as it is with Zionism, anti-Semitism and fascism , it became necessary to regard Islamophobia as a crime against humanity."

In connection with the war in the Gaza Strip, Erdoğan declared in July 2014 that Israel was a “terrorist state” and that the Israelis had surpassed Adolf Hitler in terms of barbarism. Jack Rosen, President of the American Jewish Congress , then asked Erdoğan to return the 2004 award given to Erdoğan because of his anti-Israeli statements.

In September 2019, he described it as unacceptable that Turkey is not nuclear armed.

Relationship with Russia

Hassan Rouhani , Vladimir Putin and Erdoğan in Sochi in November 2017

Erdoğan has already criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin several times . For example, he condemned him for supporting the government of Bashar al-Assad in the civil war in Syria . Nevertheless, Gerd Höhler wrote in December 2014 of a real "male friendship" between him and Putin, since Russia is Turkey's largest energy supplier and second largest trading partner. Friendship clouded over towards the end of 2015, when Russia began air strikes against rebel positions in Syria and several incidents broke out between the Russian and Turkish military. Above all, the shooting down of a Russian fighter by the Turkish army and Ankara's initial refusal to apologize for it contributed to the deterioration of the relationship. Moreover, Erdogan's family by Deputy Russian Defense Minister was Anatoly Ivanovich Antonov oil trade with the IS accused. It was only in July 2016 that Erdoğan apologized for the shooting down of the Russian fighter jet, which further improved relations between Russia and Turkey.

Accusation of supporting terrorism against Germany and the USA

Dinner between the leaders of Turkey, Germany, France and Russia in Istanbul
Erdoğan with Donald Trump in Osaka in June 2019

On November 3, 2016, Erdoğan accused Germany of harboring terrorists, namely members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the People's Revolutionary Liberation Party Front (DHKP-C). Germany has become one of the most important host countries for "terrorists".

At the end of December 2016, Erdoğan accused the US- led coalition of supporting the extremist organization Islamic State , the Kurdish group PYD and their militant People's Defense Units (YPG) and that there was evidence of this.

On March 3, 2017, he accused Germany and its authorities directly of supporting terrorism and Deniz Yücel as an agent of the Federal Republic.

Attitude to the Turkish diaspora

One of the characteristics of Erdoğan's policy is to maintain ties with the Turkish diaspora , especially in Europe. Erdoğan advocates the integration of Turkish migrants into the society and culture of the host country, but rejects “ assimilation ”. He made this attitude clear during his visit to Germany in February 2008. There Erdoğan described the assimilation of Turkish immigrants in Germany as a “ crime against humanity ”, but promoted their integration, among other things by learning the German language . Shortly before, Erdoğan had already suggested the creation of Turkish schools and universities in Germany in a discussion with Chancellor Merkel , since such German institutions already existed in Turkey.

Erdoğan's statements sparked violent opposition in Germany after his speech at the funeral service for the victims of the Ludwigshafen fire disaster was still perceived as positive. After his proposals were rejected by Chancellor Merkel, Erdoğan tightened his rhetoric in 2010: “Why this hatred of Turkey? I do not get it. I would not have expected that from Chancellor Merkel. Is Turkey a whipping boy? "

Erdoğan is also trying to build relationships with politicians of Turkish origin in European countries. In February 2010 he invited politicians of Turkish origin from several European countries to Istanbul. Numerous parliamentarians accepted his invitation. Some German MPs turned down the invitation (e.g. MPs Sevim Dağdelen , Memet Kılıç and Özcan Mutlu ). According to media reports, during the event Erdoğan urged politicians to actively represent Turkey's political interests in various European countries. Political influence in the sense of Turkey can be achieved by acquiring the citizenship of the host country. According to research by the newspaper Welt Online , the event was kept secret from the public, contrary to Erdoğan's usual appearance.

In February 2011, Erdoğan asked Turks in Germany in a speech in Düsseldorf to let their children learn Turkish first and then German. This demand met with rejection from German politicians, as early learning of the German language was a basic requirement for successful integration.

Following the resolution of the German Bundestag in Armenia , Erdoğan personally attacked eleven members of the Bundestag of Turkish origin in the spring of 2016 : he accused them of being close to the PKK and questioned their Turkish origins .

Reference to the Ottoman Empire

Reception for Mahmud Abbas , President of the State of Palestine , with costumed representatives of historical Turkic states

Erdoğan is currently referring to his country's Ottoman past more often in his speeches . On November 10, 2016, he said in a speech on the 78th anniversary of Kemal Ataturk's death:

“We will not be prisoners in 780,000 square kilometers. […] Our brothers in Crimea, in the Caucasus, in Aleppo and Mosul may be beyond physical limits, but they are within the limits of our hearts. "

In other speeches, too, Erdoğan indirectly questioned today's limits. He alluded to the resistance to the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne , in which Turkey “did not voluntarily accept” the current borders.

“In the Treaty of Lausanne we gave away islands. So close that we can hear your voices when you call over. These were our islands. Our mosques are there. "

In state-controlled broadcasters more and more cards appeared that did not show the border line established in 1923.

Erdoğan's references to the past are currently viewed more as a populist attempt to increase the influence on Turkish minorities outside the territory of the Republic of Turkey.


Controversies about German satirical contributions

On March 17, 2016, the NDR satirical magazine extra 3 broadcast a song critical of Erdoğan with the title Erdowie, Erdowo, Erdogan . According to research by the magazine Der Spiegel , the German ambassador to Turkey, Martin Erdmann , was summoned to the Turkish Foreign Ministry. Among other things, it was demanded that the federal government prevent the further spread of the satire. This approach aroused broad criticism in the German and European media public. The Federal Foreign Office announced that in a conversation with Undersecretary Murat Esenli, Ambassador Erdmann made it clear that "the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary and the protection of fundamental freedoms, including freedom of the press and freedom of expression, are valuable assets that must be protected together" . He also pointed out the previous week that political satire in Germany is covered by freedom of the press and freedom of expression “and that there is therefore neither a need nor an opportunity for the federal government to act”.

In his program Neo Magazin Royale on March 31, 2016, Jan Böhmermann processed the debate with the presentation of the poem Schmähkritik , which explored the line between permitted satire and punishable abuse criticism . The text of the poem, which was described by Angela Merkel as “deliberately hurtful”, provoked diplomatic, legal and political debates.

Statements about "the West"

Erdoğan raised allegations against the West at a meeting of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation in Istanbul in November 2014 . This is only after oil, gold, diamonds and the cheap labor in the Islamic world: “They don't love Muslims”, only “oil, gold, diamonds”. “They look like friends, but they want to see us dead, they like to see our children die”. On the same day, Pope Francis began a multi-day visit to Turkey.

In his speech on the occasion of the 562nd anniversary of the conquest of Constantinople on May 29, 1453 by Sultan Mehmet II, Erdoğan said to a million listeners in 2015:

“Conquest is called Mecca . Conquest is called Sultan Saladin , means to let the flag of Islam flow again in Jerusalem. "

- Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

After a ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) , which grants employers the right to ban political symbols as well as religious symbols in the workplace, Erdogan spoke of a crusade by the ECJ against the crescent.

Controversy over the discovery of America

On November 15, 2014 Erdogan was quoted remark that Muslims in 1178 - more than three centuries before Christopher Columbus - discovered America had. He said this at a conference of Muslim leaders from Latin America in Istanbul. Erdoğan justified his claim with a metaphorical entry in the diary of Columbus, in which Columbus mentions a mosque on a hill in Cuba. Erdoğan said he was willing to build a mosque at the location in Cuba indicated by Columbus.

Comments on the mining disaster in Soma

During the Soma mine disaster in May 2014, Prime Minister Erdoğan traveled to the scene of the accident, but angered many of those present with his speech because he u. a. explained that such work-related accidents happened "all over the world" and also referred to mining accidents in England in the 19th century (1862, 1866 and 1894) with similar casualties.

Failed presentation of the Steiger Award

On March 17, 2012 Erdoğan was to be honored in Bochum with the Steiger Award “for 50 years of German-Turkish friendship on behalf of the Turkish people” in the Europe category, but canceled the trip to Germany on the same day because a military helicopter crashed twelve Turkish soldiers were killed in Afghanistan. Despite Erdoğan's rejection, more than 22,000 people, including Alevis , Kurds and Armenians , protested against the Turkish Prime Minister in Bochum . Alevis living in Germany accused Erdoğan of suppressing their faith. The award ceremony is a "slap in the face of all minorities in Turkey".

In the run-up, the German Association of Journalists , the Federal Working Group of Immigrant Associations, the organization Reporters Without Borders and politicians from the CSU and the Greens had also criticized the award for suppressing freedom of expression and freedom of the press under Erdoğan's presidency in Turkey.

Scandal at the World Economic Forum in Davos

At the World Economic Forum 2009 in Davos (Switzerland) there was a scandal during a panel discussion. Israeli President Shimon Peres defended his state's actions in the Gaza Strip and asked Erdoğan how he would have reacted to continued rocket fire in Istanbul. When the moderator, referring to the elapsed time of the discussion, did not allow Erdoğan to speak any further, he reacted angrily and shouted: “One minute (s)! One minute (s)! ”Then the moderator gave him the floor again. Erdoğan criticized Israel's actions against the Palestinian people and accused the Israeli government of deliberately killing innocent civilians and children. Meanwhile, the moderator tried again and again to end Erdoğan's speech. Erdogan explained that the distribution of speaking time was unfair and left the rostrum, on the next to Shimon Peres who is also Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon and Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa were.

Doubts about the degree

According to his official biography and submitted document, Erdoğan holds a degree in Economics and Management from Marmara University in 1981. Various facts cast doubts on its authenticity:

  • The Institute for Economics and Administrative Sciences was only founded under this name in 1982.
  • The dean and the rector, who ostensibly signed the diploma, were only in office from 1982.
  • The font used on the document is said not to have been on the market in 1981.
  • The city of Istanbul's local transport company states on its website that Erdoğan was employed full-time until 1981.

The lack of authenticity of the university degree is a problem because, according to the constitution, Erdoğan should have presented his diploma for examination before being elected president. The Association of Turkish University Professors doubts whether Erdoğan's certificate meets this requirement.

The opposition parties Milliyetçi Hareket Partisi (MHP) and Halkların Demokratik Partisi (HDP) raised the allegation of forgery at the beginning of the presidency.

Erdoğan's failure to join the demonstration in Cologne

On July 31, 2016, a large demonstration of around 30,000 participants against the attempted coup in Turkey took place in Cologne . The organizers had planned to connect the Turkish President Erdoğan to a live broadcast on a screen so that he could have addressed the rally participants by video. In the notice of the conditions issued by the Cologne police headquarters on July 27, 2016, the erection of a video screen was prohibited on the grounds that it would increase the risk of criminal offenses. The present Turkish Minister of Sport therefore only read the text of the speech by the Turkish President.

Diplomatic appearance in the course of the election campaign in 2017

In March 2017, due to the election campaign for the referendum on the introduction of the presidential system in Turkey, there was a heated public dispute over the appearances (or their bans on appearances) by Turkish ministers in various European countries and led in particular to Dutch-Turkish relations , such as also in German-Turkish relations to a diplomatic incident .

On the occasion of the constitutional referendum on 16 April 2017 a number of Turkish politicians visited in advance to campaign appearances different places in Germany, as well as due to the Turkish diaspora 1.4 million eligible to vote Turks living in Germany and performances of Turkish leaders in previous years before Turkish background in Germany occurred had. But after several campaign appearances by Turkish government representatives in Germany were officially canceled by the German authorities from March 2017 due to security and organizational problems, Erdogan then turned to Germany in a campaign speech in Turkey: "Your practices are no different from the earlier Nazi practices ".

After an originally planned election campaign appearance by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu was canceled in the Netherlands in March 2017 , the Turkish government publicly threatened sanctions. Then the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte decided not to allow top Turkish politicians to campaign in the Netherlands for the time being and to declare the Turkish Family Minister Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya , who was campaigning in the Netherlands, as persona non grata and therefore expelled her from the country. Erdogan then spoke of fascists and Nazi descendants in the Netherlands during an election campaign appearance in Turkey. To Angela Merkel , who then criticized rhetoric that played down National Socialism and therefore declared her solidarity with the Netherlands, he said “Shame on you!” ... “Dear Merkel, you support terrorists”.

Statue in Wiesbaden

As part of the Wiesbaden Biennale art festival , a four-meter-high gold-colored statue was approved to be erected in the street in August 2018, without any prior knowledge that the statue represents Erdogan. Since it triggered violent verbal arguments between supporters and opponents, the city of Wiesbaden decided to vacate the square and have the statue dismantled by the fire department, which took place on the night of August 29, 2018.


Erdoğan is also an honorary citizen of Abidjan , Mamusha , Novi Pazar , Tehran , Seoul and Prizren .

Buildings and facilities named after Erdoğan


In 1975 Erdoğan wrote the play Mas-Kom-Yah, which critics rated as anti-Semitic . He has worked as a director and actor in performances.


  • Çiğdem Akyol : Generation Erdogan. Turkey - a torn country in the 21st century. Kremayr & Scheriau, Vienna 2015, ISBN 978-3-218-00969-0
  • Çiğdem Akyol: Erdoğan. The biography . Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau 2016, ISBN 978-3-451-32886-2 .
  • Ayşe Çavdar: Rivalry among like-minded people: Erdoğan vs. Gulen . In: Ilker Ataç, Michael Fanizadeh, Volkan Ağar, Vienna Institute for International Dialogue and Cooperation (VIDC) (ed.): After the coup. 16 Notes on the "new" Turkey . Mandelbaum Verlag, Vienna 2018, ISBN 978-3-85476-576-9 , pp. 40–53.


Web links

Commons : Recep Tayyip Erdoğan  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Recep Tayyip Erdoğan  - Sources and full texts (Turkish)

Individual evidence

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