Marking the 25th anniversary of a deadly racist attack in Germany, Turkey's foreign minister on Monday called for unity in the fight against racism, xenophobia, and Islamophobia
Five members of a Turkish immigrant family died in 1993 in the city of Solingen, perishing by a fire set by four young far-right extremists, amid growing resentment against foreigners in the country following Germany’s reunification.
"Today, the only goal I have in attending this ceremony is to once again condemn with you all kinds of negative currents or distorted mentalities — including racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia — and to give a united message to fight it,” Mevlut Cavusoglu told a commemoration ceremony in Dusseldorf.
"It is our duty to draw the necessary lessons from this tragedy, to be able to stand as one body to combat racism, to take effective measures against xenophobia to prevent them from being repeated again,” he added.
Cavusoglu said that the fight has to continue as Solingen was "not the first racist attack in Germany, Europe, and beyond and will not be the last".
Dozens of xenophobic attacks in Germany from 1990 to 1996 claimed the lives of at least 18 immigrants and asylum seekers, and injured dozens more.
Turkey and international observers have also decried a growing wave of xenophobic and racist attacks in Germany and other European countries in recent years.
Role of politics and the media
Cavusoglu stressed that politics and the media also play a big role in this issue, calling on them to stand against marginalizing and discriminatory rhetoric and engage in self-criticism.
The only expectation of those who call Germany their "second homeland is to be an equal individual in the society," he said.
Germany has a 3 million-strong Turkish community, many of whom are second- and third-generation German-born citizens whose Turkish grandparents moved to the country as “guest workers” during the 1960s.
Stating that Turkey and Germany need to work together on integration, Cavusoglu also thanked German Chancellor Angela Merkel for her steps in fighting racism institutionally.
"Turkey stands ready to give her every kind of support," he added.
Cavusoglu was invited by Armin Laschet, minister-president of North Rhine-Westphalia, to the commemoration ceremony, which Merkel and the family of the victims also attended.
The foreign minister also addressed the ongoing NSU trial of far-right extremists charged with killing eight Turkish immigrants, a Greek citizen, and a German policewoman between 2000 and 2007.
"We hope that at the end of this case, in line with the promise of Chancellor Merkel, we will have a decision that will expose all the links and background of the attacks and satisfy the public conscience," he said.
"In this regard, we all have common expectations," he added.
The neo-Nazi group NSU is believed to have killed immigrants between 2000 and 2007.
The German public first learned of the group's existence in 2011, when NSU members Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Bohnhardt died in a murder-suicide following an unsuccessful bank robbery.
Beate Zschaepe, 43, the sole survivor of the terrorist cell, has been on trial since 2013, but has so far denied any role in the killings and tried to lay the blame on her two late accomplices.
Until 2011, Germany’s police and intelligence services excluded any racial motive for the murders and instead treated immigrant families as suspects in the case, questioning them over alleged connections with mafia groups and drug traffickers.
However, recent revelations have shown that German domestic intelligence agency BfV had dozens of informants who had contacts with the NSU suspects since the late 1990s.
But officials insisted that they had no prior information about the NSU terror cell and its suspected role in the killings.
Many questions over the murders remain unresolved, as dozens of secret files belonging to the domestic intelligence service were destroyed, soon after the 2011 death of Mundlos and Bohnhardt.