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Wulff difficult foreign mission


HB BERLIN. President Christian Wulff travels on Monday in Turkey. The third official visit in his first three-month term of office is to travel to Switzerland to Russia and also the most sensitive to date.

Wulff has fired his speech on the day of German unity, the debate about the role of Islam in Germany. It is not long died down, as was also the weekend in the Union again. If the head of state pour further fuel to the fire? Or rather dampen the fierce controversy in the distance?

With tension on Tuesday Wulff’s speech before the Turkish Parliament is expected – it is the first time ever that a German head of state speaks to the Turkish Parliament.

For official recognition of Islam as part of German reality of life Wulff has already reaped high praise from the Turkish state and governance. "I loved his speech on 20 years of German unity very much," let it be known leader Abdullah Gul’s guest prior to arrival in Ankara.

Ten years ago, has recently been with Johannes Rau, a federal president in Turkey. Meanwhile, Ankara is negotiating a member of the European Union. The attitude of the government in Berlin plays a key role. But for other reasons, the German-Turkish relations are under close observation.

In Germany, three million citizens of Turkish origin. They are the largest minority in the country. There are also closest economic and political ties with Germany’s NATO partner country, which plays a special role in the crisis regions of neighboring Iraq and the Middle East. Chancellor Angela Merkel has visited Turkey in March. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was a few days later in Berlin.

The program of Wulff’s state visit, which still was planned by his predecessor, Horst Köhler, will include the entire range of bilateral relations. These include the foundation stone of the first German-Turkish University in Istanbul, and the conversation with the religious leaders of the country.

Turkey is frequently criticized for discrimination against their own religious minorities, including the small Christian community. Visits by representatives of Christians in Turkey are therefore now a must for German politicians.

Wulff will speak with the chairman of the Department of Religion (Diyanet), Ali Bardakoglu. As the chief religious police, formally this is indeed responsible for the state control of Sunni Islam. But his voice in all religious disputes weight.

The Christians complain that Turkey has conferred their communities no legal permanent status. And it’s about more than just formalities. The right to own property, or the religious minorities for the survival of schools and universities depend strictly necessary again and again by the political climate from the country.

The rights of minorities play in the negotiations on an EU accession of the country involved. Turkish leaders express themselves more frustrated, because overall, hardly anything is moving forward.

"Unfortunately, the negotiation process with intrigue, so had to experience no other candidate, interrupted", recently lamented Europe Minister and chief negotiator Egemen Bagis. "If Turkey does not want it, it says open and hold not back us," submitted to Prime Minister Erdogan.

If the ex-CDU Vice-Wulff in Turkey a "privileged partnership" instead of full EU membership argue, as is also a party official line of CDU leader Angela Merkel? When it comes to the West Germans should make the President of Turkey no hope for an early EU accession. In a survey for the "Bild"-Zeitung (Monday) to 72.5 percent of the participants spoke out against it.