UPDATE – Erdogan: No difference between Daesh, PKK terrorists

UPDATES WITH MORE REMARKS FROM ERDOGAN; EDITS THROUGHOUT

By Fatih Hafiz Mehmet

ANKARA (AA) – Turkey sees no difference between Daesh and PKK terrorist groups, the country’s president said on Saturday in his final address of a three-day state visit to Germany.

"We consider identical the Daesh savagery, which killed civilians in Berlin marketplace, and the PKK murderers, who martyred 11-month-old Bedirhan and his mother two months ago," Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at the inauguration ceremony of Cologne Central Mosque.

Erdogan also called for a common stance against racism, stressing that Islamophobia, xenophobia and racism are maladies that threaten both the present and future.

"We should act together against these trends, which corrode social peace and undermine the culture of coexistence," he added.

Stating that some people try to link all Muslims, by labelling them "Islamist" or "Jihadist," with the terror groups that harmed and killed mostly the Muslims, Erdogan said they expect from political and media institutions of Europe to refrain from statements that will show Muslims as a target.

"We say that this racism must end," Erdogan stressed.

He said the youth are tried to be pulled into the trap of terrorism by groups such as Daesh, PKK and Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), while the racist groups, he also said, ignore the rights of Muslims.

"Will not allow a handful of PKK and FETO sympathizer incompetents to disturb our people and harm Turkish-German friendship," Erdogan added.

"We expect a more intense effort from our European friends against terror groups," the president said.

He said the streets and squares of the European capitals should not be "polluted" anymore with the symbols of PKK.

FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.

In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU — has been responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women and children.

– 'Extremely fruitful and successful' visit

Erdogan described his trip to Germany an “extremely fruitful and successful visit in a critical period”, adding that it also strengthened the Turkish-German friendship.

The president also stressed that the two countries need to focus on common interests and put clash of ideas aside.

"We will strengthen our cooperation in every field ranging from fight against terror groups to migrant crisis, conflict in Syria to trade wars," Erdogan said.

Erdogan also called on Germany to enable dual Turkish-German citizenship for the Turks living across Germany.

Furthermore, he thanked those who worked decisively to construct the mosque, despite many threats coming from marginal circles.

"I hope that DITIB Cologne Central Mosque and Complex will be the center of peace and security in the whole Europe," he added.

The Cologne Central Mosque, built by Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB) after eight years of construction work, has a capacity of 1,200 people.

Following his official meetings in Berlin on Saturday, Turkish President Erdogan had arrived the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia, which has a large Turkish immigrant population.

Germany, a country of over 81 million people, has the second-largest Muslim population in Western Europe after France.

Among the country’s nearly 4.7 million Muslims, three million are of Turkish origin. Many of them are second or third-generations of Turkish families who migrated to Germany in the 1960s, and are well integrated in the country.

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