President Gül calls bomb threat in Berlin ‘a total scandal’

September 20, 2011, Tuesday/ 18:13:00/ ABDULHAMİT BİLİCİ

Turkish President Abdullah Gül on Tuesday described a bomb threat made by the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which delayed a speech he was giving at Berlin’s Humboldt University, “a total scandal,” while also criticizing the way German officials handled the situation.

Police asked people to leave the auditorium of Humboldt University, on downtown Berlin’s Unter den Linden Boulevard, shortly before Gül was to deliver a speech on Turkish-German relations. The alert came after an anonymous tipster called the police emergency number and made a bomb threat, saying, “People should be taken to safety,” police spokesman Guido Busch said. Police officers searched the building to see whether there was anything suspicious. “What happened at the university is a total scandal,” Gül told a group of Turkish journalists on Tuesday during his four-day official visit to Germany, which kicked off on Sunday. “Just when I was preparing to deliver my speech, they said there was a bomb tip-off. Haven’t you already taken precautions?” he questioned, apparently addressing the German authorities.

“A head of a state is coming here to deliver a speech. It is not a joke but it is a scandal,” Gül added. Underlining that the bomb threat had come from members of the PKK, Gül said if he had accepted leaving the university, he would have bowed to blackmailing of the terrorist group.

On Monday, Gül eventually gave an abridged version of his speech two hours later to a smaller audience. “There are people who wanted to delay this event,” Gül said, adding, “When they heard that I still wanted to hold the speech, they made a bomb threat.” “We will never submit to terror,” he asserted. “Any organization that makes a bomb threat is a terrorist organization.”

At the start of his speech, Gül said Roj TV, a pro- PKK TV station, had been urging viewers to disrupt his visit to the university all day. Opposite the building, some 50 demonstrators chanted and waved banners in support of the PKK, outlawed in Turkey, and its jailed leader, Abdullah Öcalan.

“The German president later expressed his sadness and told me that I did the right thing by not leaving the university. If I had bowed to blackmailing, they [the PKK] would have sabotaged my program,” Gül said on Tuesday, while speaking to journalists. He also suggested that Roj TV’s calls for disrupting his visit should be sent as evidence to a Danish court that is trying Roj TV on charges of promoting and glorifying the activities of the PKK.

Earlier on Tuesday, Gül held a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel during which the German politician voiced concerns over the deterioration of bilateral relations between Turkey and Israel. Merkel promotes a “privileged partnership” between Turkey and the European Union that falls short of membership, a formula Ankara categorically rejects.

Ahead of the meeting with Merkel, Gül had already ruled out formulas such as a “privileged partnership” as an alternative to full membership.

Europeans should first of all let Turkey finish its EU membership process successfully, instead of holding debates over whether Turkey should become a full member or not, Gül said on Monday, speaking at a joint press conference following talks with his German counterpart Christian Wulff.

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