The Bundestag wants the Turkish right-wing extremists gray wolves to be banned. Cem Özdemir from the Greens would have liked to have formulated the proposal more clearly.
taz: Mr. Özdemir, you campaigned in the Bundestag for a cross-party motion on the gray wolves. The interior minister is to consider a ban on Turkish right-wing extremists, as in France. Why now?
Cem Ozdemir: This ban is long overdue, but now there is a window of opportunity for a majority. The last occasion was the pictures from Lyon, where the memorial for the victims of the genocide of the Armenians and other Christian peoples was desecrated by the Gray Wolves. This movement is also active in Germany, it tries to intimidate people who have a different opinion. There is also a credibility problem. We banned the PKK in Germany, but not this movement – probably out of consideration for the Turkish government.
What is the danger of the gray wolves?
It is an ultra-nationalist, racist and violent movement with an anti-Semitic ideology. In Turkey she is responsible for hundreds of murders – of leftists, Kurds, Alevis and those who think differently.
How are the gray wolves positioned in Germany?
There are several umbrella organizations with hundreds of local organizations. Some sources assume at least 18,500 members of the largest three umbrella organizations alone, making the Gray Wolves the strongest right-wing extremist organization in this country. In Germany, too, they are fighting for the idea of Pan-Turkism, an empire of the Turkic peoples from western China to the Balkans. And the others are disturbing. The fate of the Armenians in 1915 showed what to disturb means.
What influence do the Gray Wolves have on the AKP, the party of Turkish President Erdoğan?
54, is a member of the Bundestag and a member of the Greens. From 2008 to 2018 he was national chairman of his party.
With the MHP you are de facto a kind of coalition partner in Turkey and the real power in the state. Because Erdoğan can only stay in power because he has made a pact with Turkish ultra-nationalism. It goes so far that he and people from the AKP leadership are spotted with the wolf salute more and more often, even in Germany. This is a very clear signal that the extreme form of nationalism is being supported right up to the top of the Turkish state. That was also one of the problems in drawing up the joint application in the Bundestag.
In what way?
The mandate to the federal government regarding the gray wolves is clearly formulated. But you can imagine that I would have liked to have made the connections between the Gray Wolves and the Turkish government clearer. You have to ask the SPD parliamentary group why that was not possible.
There are always reports, most recently in the local elections in North Rhine-Westphalia, that supporters of the Gray Wolves are trying to influence the CDU, for example. Is that part of the strategy?
Yes, all parties have certainly had members from this area. During my time as federal chairman, I tried to put massive pressure on us to prevent this influence. In the local elections in NRW there were some blatant cases at the CDU, for example a supposed supporter of the Gray Wolves in Duisburg and an Erdoğan lobbyist and denier of the genocide against the Armenians in Gelsenkirchen.
Have you been threatened by the Gray Wolves yourself?
There have already been meetings with supporters of this movement. There are reasons why I am protected by the Federal Criminal Police Office at events and when I’m on the move.