The already tense relationship between Germany and Turkey has suffered another major blow this week with Turkish police forces arresting six human right activists, including a German citizen, they accuse of supporting violent terrorist groups in the Kurdish areas. German politicians across the political spectrum have voiced harsh criticism on the Turkish government’s course of action and called it “a politically motivated farce“ as well as a clear violation of the rule of law. Chancellor Merkel, who used to be quite reluctant in the past in an effort to not damage her work relation with Turkish President Erdogan more than necessary, expressed “major concerns“ and demanded the immediate and unconditional release of those arrested. Foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel, SPD, even announced that Germany would need to reconsider its entire Turkey policy since “the most absurd things“ seem to be possible now and Turkey is no longer the trustworthy ally of the past.
While a tough stance on Turkey remains a largely undisputed issue in German party politics, the country’s gatekeeper position and its ability to significantly curb refugee flows from the Middle East are still valuable assets. For the conservative CSU, this kind of dependency should be abolished rather sooner than later and replaced by a tougher national border regime and less immigration. In their recently published “Bayern Plan“ (a composition of ideas either too radical for the common election manifesto or too specific), the CSU puts great emphasis on exactly this kind of domestic security issues, fighting for potential AfD voters who feel disenfranchised by the political mainstream. Again, they embrace their infamous “Obergrenze“ (upper limit) for asylum seekers and the very concept of a German “Leitkultur“ (lead culture) as a guiding principle for integration and community. Since there will be Bavarian state parliament elections in 2018, the CSU needs to satisfy its conservative clientele and the “Bayern Plan’s“ content may provide a helpful tool in this regard.