TURKISH President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz embarked on a tense exchange after both leaders expressed deep divisions in their respective stances toward the Gaza crisis.
In a joint press conference with Scholz, the Turkish leader suggested that Germany was unable to criticize Israel because of the Holocaust, noting that he could speak freely because his country did not owe anything to the Jewish state.
Erdogan also called Israel a “terror state” and slammed its Western allies, including Germany, for supporting its escalating military operations in Gaza.
The Turkish president described Hamas militants as “resistance fighters” trying to protect their lands and people as opposed to Israel, the United States, and the European Union which declared the group a terrorist organization.
Meanwhile, Scholz acknowledged their different views on the conflict and described Erdogan’s accusations against Israel as “absurd.”
The German chancellor also recognized Israel’s right to protect itself.
Another possible source of tension was Turkiye’s plans to purchase 40 Eurofighter Typhoon jets produced by Germany, the U.K., Spain, and Italy.
Germany is reportedly blocking the sale of military aircraft to Turkiye while a frustrated Erdogan said they could just buy warplanes from other manufacturers.
Turkiye and Germany are long-time NATO allies. The European country is also home to more than 3 million people with Turkish roots.