Germany opts for hardline stance against Turkey

Leigh Mccormick
July 21, 2017

While Germany stopped short of more drastic immediate action, his statement marked a shift to a more hawkish public stance.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan's spokesman on Thursday lashed out at Germany after Berlin threatened to end corporate investment guarantees, saying Ankara could not accept such a stance, escalating a row between the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies.

Germany is calling on Turkey to release a German human rights trainer, who was arrested pending trial on suspicion of links to terror groups.

Before that, Turkey accused Germany and other European nations such as Greece of providing shelter to those who took part in the failed military coup in Turkey past year. Nine German citizens are now in custody. It's unclear which terror group the six are accused of aiding.

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Germany was Turkey's top export destination in 2016, according to Reuters, citing International Monetary Fund data, and was also the second biggest source of Turkish imports, at $21.5 billion. The latter spat prompted Erdogan to accuse Germany of "committing Nazi practices".

In recent weeks, Turkish authorities have also arrested a member of rights group Amnesty International and several other foreign activists.

Human rights groups have accused Turkey of curbing freedom of speech and curtailing other freedoms after sacking thousands of civil servants, academics, police and army officials.

Earlier today, Germany warns its citizens against travel to Turkey. It said Turkey was Germany's No. 15 export destination and No. 16 source of imports past year.

Deniz Yucel, who works for the daily Die Welt, was arrested February 14 in Istanbul.

The German foreign ministry also updated its travel advice for Turkey.

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Trump, who met American steelmakers the same day, replied to a reporter's question by saying the USA may impose high tariffs on steel imports.

"We need to be clearer than we have been until now so those responsible in Ankara understand that such policies are not without consequences", Gabriel said.

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The ministry also demanded consular access to its citizen and the release of all the activists.

He added that Berlin will talk with its European Union partners about the future of pre-accession financial aid for Ankara, which is in slow-moving talks to join the bloc. And he said that credits from European development banks should be examined. "Today's remarks by German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel were the latest and an unacceptable example of this one-sided distorted approach", the ministry said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's spokesman has branded as "unfortunate" comments by the German foreign minister, including those telling Germans to exercise caution in Turkey.

Erdogan's spokesman argued that Gabriel's comments were geared toward a domestic audience ahead of Germany's September 24 election.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, described the terror accusations as "a transparent attempt to discredit and criminalize dissenters".

Following the failed attempt to overthrow the government, Turkey has cracked down on people suspected of being affiliated with US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, accused of being behind the failed coup. "There is no such thing".

But he said its "poor human rights record" raised concerns about whether Germans should visit the country.

"Recently, there has been a serious confidence crisis in our relations with Germany, which is a friend and ally that we have historical ties with", the ministry said in a statement.

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