Amid the global refugee crisis and growing global intervention in the war to bring down the ISIS, Germany had been a glowing light, shining in its singular achievement of welcoming refugees with open hearts and arms. Now, however, Germany is struggling to cope up with a reported 400% increase in numbers of asylum-seekers and refugees from its European neighbour and on-and-off ally, Turkey. The number of Turkish asylum seekers now stands at 4,437, up from January and October 2016, compared to 1,767 applications received in all of the year 2015, the Funke Mediengruppe newspaper chain reported, citing German government data.
There is a context behind the numbers. On July 15th, an attempted Turkish military coup appeared to crumble after crowds answered President Tayyip Erdogan’s call to take to the streets to support him.216 people died.The uprising was an “act of treason”, and those responsible would pay a heavy price, Erdogan later told reporters at a hastily arranged news conference. Arrests of officers were under way, and it would go higher up the ranks, culminating in the cleansing of the military. Gunfire and explosions had rocked both the main city Istanbul and capital Ankara in a chaotic night after soldiers took up positions in both cities and ordered state television to read out a statement declaring they had taken power. There is an invisible war on in Turkey between moderate and extremist, often described as Islamic extremism, elements and the surge in asylum seekers were feared to be on the rise. The current development has proved this to be true.
Around 350 asylum-seekers from Turkey were registered each month during the first six months of the year, with numbers then rising steadily to around 485 in October. No comment was immediately available from the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), which compiles the data.
“We must expect that the number of Turks who are seeking political asylum in Germany will continue to rise,” the media group quoted Stephan Mayer, a senior member of the CSU sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives, as saying.
Mayer criticised statements from German foreign ministry officials in which they said persecuted political opponents of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan could apply for asylum in Germany. “We cannot solve Turkey’s problems by inviting all critical citizens of Turkey to apply for asylum,” Mayer told the media organisation. “That’s exactly what (Erdogan) wants: that the opposition disappears.” This statement alone shows the deepening divide in the German collective consciousness when it comes to Turkey.
German-Turkish relations have been strained over a series of issues, including Berlin’s criticism of mass arrests in Turkey and Ankara’s treatment of the media, and charges by Turkey that Germany is a safe haven for the banned Kurdish militant PKK, theKurdistan Workers Party. German officials deny the Turkish accusations and say they have been working for years to prevent attacks by members of the banned PKK.
Meanwhile, the increased deterioration in these two European powers’ relations might provide an escape hatch for the real militant elements. Further tensions over the migrant issue and the Syrian crisis might escalate into a diplomatic stare-off, fuelling Islamic extremist groups to further their ‘idea’ of how the world should be.