Germany Tries to Calm Turkey, Angered by Leaked Islamist 'Hub' Allegations

The government report, revealed by German public broadcaster ARD this week, said Turkey had become a hub for Islamist groups and that Erdogan had an 'ideological affinity' to Hamas, among others.

A Turkish protester holds a portrait of Turkish President Erdogan during a demonstration in Cologne, Germany, July 31, 2016.
Martin Meissner, AP

REUTERS - Germany on Wednesday tried to row back from its latest spat with Turkey, its crucial partner in efforts to stem mass migration, after Ankara lashed out over a leaked government report alleging Turkey was a hub for Islamist groups.

Turkey and Germany have had a series of rows 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.

Ankara has also been incensed by criticism from the West of its crackdown following a failed coup attempt on July 15.

The government report, revealed 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.

German government spokesman Steffen Seibert declined to comment on the report, which ARD said was confidential and commissioned by the interior ministry upon a parliamentary request from the leftist Linke party.

But Seibert said Berlin still viewed Ankara as a partner in the fight against Islamic State.

Interior Ministry spokesman Johannes Dimroth said the report was signed by a deputy minister, and that neither Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere nor the Foreign Ministry had been involved.

"Where people work, mistakes can happen," Dimroth said.

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.

In June, there was another, as yet unresolved rift when Turkey appeared to block a visit by German lawmakers to 250 German soldiers stationed at Incirlik air base in southern Turkey.

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.

"As a country which sincerely fights against terror of every sort whatever its source, Turkey expects that its other partners and allies act in the same way."