Erdoğan as Merkel’s Protégé

Turkey’s relations with Germany have always been privileged, but Angela Merkel took that relationship even further by treating Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as a protégé in the international arena. Their relationship strengthened in parallel with a significant increase in German-Turkish military and trade cooperation. But Merkel’s term is coming to an end, and there has been a noticeable shift in tone within the Berlin political establishment toward Ankara. The Turkish president will not be able to count on German benevolence forever.


Turkey’s relations with European countries have been volatile and unfriendly in the past, but Ankara has long enjoyed warm and stable strategic relations with one European country: Germany. Strong Turkish-German relations can be traced back more than 100 years to the time when the two countries fought side by side during WWI. During WWII, then Turkish president Ismet İnönü signed a friendship pact with Nazi Germany. It was only when Allied pressure on Ankara mounted that in 1945—just a few months before the end of the war—it dissolved the agreement.

In 1961, Germany and Turkey signed a pact creating a guest workers program designed to fill demand for unskilled labor in Germany’s booming economy. Today, around 4 million people of Turkish descent live in Germany. It is the country’s largest migrant community.

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