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Own ways: Mr. and Mrs. Schröder (in April in Karlsruhe)

Photo: Uwe Anspach / dpa

Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and his wife Soyeon Schroeder-Kim apparently attended the swearing-in ceremony of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Schroeder-Kim posted a photo of the two on Instagram with the comment "Greetings from Ankara." Apparently, the picture was taken on Saturday at the presidential palace, where Erdoğan celebrated his re-election. For the Schroeders, it was a double celebration: "The first time my birthday party in Turkey," wrote Schroeder-Kim, who turned 53 – "and then also for this special occasion."

Gerhard Schröder has remained closely associated with Erdoğan since the time of his chancellorship. Schroeder also attended the swearing-in ceremony after the previous presidential election in 2018, at that time as an official well-wisher on behalf of the Federal Republic. This time, however, this task was taken over by former German President Christian Wulff. The fact that Schroeder honored the Turkish president is therefore more of a personal than a diplomatic mission. Schroeder also attracts attention again and again because of his closeness to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Most recently, the Schröders were guests at the reception of the Russian embassy in Berlin on May 9 to mark the anniversary of the Soviet Union's victory over Nazi Germany – once a must-attend event, but now shunned by most of German politics because of Russia's war against Ukraine.

Proclaimed "New Era"

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan began his third term in office on Saturday. After his swearing-in in parliament, he went in the pouring rain to the mausoleum of the founder of the republic, Atatürk, where he proclaimed a "new era". At a gala dinner with almost 80 heads of state and government in his gigantic presidential palace on a hill, Erdoğan then gave a surprisingly conciliatory speech. "Let's put aside the resentment and anger of the election campaign," the president said. Only then did he present his new cabinet late in the evening.

The ceremony was also attended by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. During his visit to Ankara, he wanted to persuade Erdoğan to abandon his opposition to Sweden's accession to NATO.

Erdoğan's other guests included Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who, like Erdoğan, is blocking Sweden's accession to NATO. Also at the table were the head of state of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolás Maduro and the heads of state of numerous African states.

After an aggressive election campaign, Erdoğan prevailed in last Sunday's run-off election with 52 percent of the vote against the social democratic opposition candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu. After parts of the German government had openly hoped for a different result, Chancellor Olaf Scholz congratulated and invited Erdoğan to Berlin.