Germany’s domestic intelligence service recently published its annual “Constitutional Protection” report, which details Turkish influence operations in the country and identifies the Union of International Democrats (UID) as the most important Turkish influence group: According to the report:
June 2022 The activities of Turkish intelligence services and security authorities are flanked by attempts to influence communities of Turkish origin in Germany, which can also have an impact on the political decision-making process in German society as a whole. Pro-government organizations promote current Turkish policies in Germany and other European countries. The largest pro-state or pro-government interest group is the Union of International Democrats (UID). The umbrella organization, based in Cologne, was founded in 2004 as a lobbying organization for the AKP. The UID now has 15 regional associations throughout Germany, which in turn are divided into a large number of local associations with membership status. By now, it publicly displays its ties to Turkey by increasingly holding meetings with AKP officials and Turkish government members. [Translated with DeepL]
Read the full report here.
While the 2020 “Constitutional Protection” report for Hesse identified the political lobby UID and the religious umbrella organization DITIB as the leading Turkish influence organizations in Germany, the 2021 federal report contains no mention of DITIB. The Global Influence Operations Report has extensively covered the activities of both DITIB and the UID. Most recently, we reported that a series of sponsored events and social media posts suggest that the Turkish government is using both groups to spread its message on the sixth anniversary of the July 2016 attempted coup in Turkey.
The Union of International Democrats (UID; formerly known as the Union of European Turkish Democrats) describes itself as a voluntary NGO founded in 2004 that operates in several European countries. Its aims include increasing Turks’ economic, political, and social activities and “sister communities” abroad without alienating their identities and values. Its purposes also include combatting Islamophobia. German media has described the UID as a lobbying group for President Erdoğan and his AKP stand, which emphasizes Turkish values and customs. The German Office for the Protection of the Constitution monitors the UID, describing it as “nationalist” and incompatible with Germany’s free democratic order.