Next month, Turkish voters will go to the polls on a major constitutional referendum aimed to give President Recep Tayyip Erdogan virtually unchecked power as president, and dramatically reducing the historical power of parliament.
Recent polls have shown strong opposition to the measure, to the point that Erdogan has “asked” organizations to stop conducting polls at least through the end of March. They’re also looking for a scapegoat to blame for potential defeat, and the Erdogan government says that it’s Germany that’s behind the opposition.
Several cities in Germany made moves to block planned Turkish rallies in favor of the referendum in their cities, which led Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu to claim that Germany “wants to get in the way of a strong Turkey.” German officials insisted the decisions were made at a state or local level, and were centered on security concerns.
President Erdogan can never just be displeased with something without going off on a tirade, of course, which led him to also claim recently detained reported Deniz Yucel, a German citizen, is a “German agent” as well as a terrorist working for the Kurdish PKK.
Yucel is being charged with “propaganda in support of a terrorist organization” for media reports based on WikiLeaks-published emails. The detention of private reporters is increasingly common in Turkey under Erdogan, which has led to the nationalization of Turkish media outlets seen as insufficiently pro-government, pretty much always on claims of terrorism.