German finance minister compares Turkey to the GDR


In a continuation of the recent developments between Germany and Turkey the German finance minister is reported to have compared Turkey to the previous East Germany. The problems developing between the two countries have led to Germany considering political measures including travel warnings.

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dpa news: (2017-07-22)

Berlin/Istanbul (dpa) - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan tried to reassure German investors Friday even as Berlin appeared to strengthen its resolve in a war of words and ideals, sharpening travel warnings and threatening sanctions.


Erdogan denounced recent German pronouncements as "black propaganda," "defamation," and "evil slander" as he rejected claims that Turkey was investigating German firms on terrorism charges.

"We are their guarantee. We are their security," said Erdogan on German firms, insisting business would continue as usual. "We have until now worked with them on a win-win basis," he added.

However, Erdogan indicated that Turkey would not release any German prisoners, including one man seized during a human rights conference in Istanbul.


"They must know that our judiciary is more independent than theirs," Erdogan said, adding that Turkey would not be threatened.


His remarks came after German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told Bild newspaper that Turkey was no longer a country under the rule of law and compared it to communist East Germany.


"Turkey is now arresting people arbitrarily and is no longer upholding consular standards - it reminds me of what it used to be like in the GDR," he said, referring to the former German Democratic Republic.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel this week had also warned that any German travelling to Turkey was at risk of arrest and threatened that export guarantees could be withdrawn.


On July 5, Turkish authorities detained six human rights activists - including Idil Eser, director of Amnesty International's Turkey branch, Ali Gharavi of Sweden and Peter Steudtner from Germany - at a conference in Istanbul. They were held for terrorism-related offences.


The detention of Steudtner, who had no previous affiliation with Turkey, prompted the latest round of tensions between the two trading partners.

Four other human rights workers were detained as part of the raid but then released on Tuesday, under restrictions. However, a fresh warrant was again issued for their capture late on Friday.


"We have a duty to protect our citizens and businesses," said Merkel's chief of staff, Peter Altmaier. Two German journalists, including Deniz Yucel, a correspondent for Die Welt newspaper, remain in Turkish custody on terrorism charges.


In a further escalation, Hans-Georg Maassen, the head of Germany's domestic intelligence service, said Friday that Turkey's covert operations on German soil had made the country an "adversary" to Germany.

"Since the coup attempt last summer and the changes to Turkey's domestic policies, we have viewed Turkey not only as a partner, but also - in light of its covert operations in Germany - as an adversary," Maassen said Friday.


The Turkish intelligence service MIT is alleged to have spied on suspected supporters of exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen - currently resident in the US - and other, Germany-based critics of the Turkish government.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said it was important to act with "prudence," adding that neither country had anything to gain by further harming their relationship, while recalling that Turkey and Germany have a long-standing link that dates back to World War I.


Earlier, Turkey's Foreign Ministry had accused Berlin of "blackmail" and said that it was a "double standard" to grant asylum to supporters of Gulen and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) while simultaneously demanding the release of German prisoners in Turkey.


Mustafa Yeneroglu, a lawmaker for President Recep Tayyip Erodgan's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), expressed outrage at a Bild headline that read "Turkey crisis: Is Erdogan arresting holiday-makers now?"


"Rabble-rousing Bild headline not only intimidates potential holiday-makers, but also (incites hatred) #racism #mediamanipulation," Yeneroglu wrote on Twitter.


German media reported Friday that Germany had suspended arms deliveries to Turkey, a member of the NATO military alliance, but this could not be independently verified.


Since the coup attempt last year, Turkey has jailed more than 50,000 people for alleged links to the Gulenists and purged some 150,000 people from the civil service and military.


Dozens of media outlets have been shuttered, as have private businesses and civil society groups. Around 165 media workers are jailed in Turkey.


Europe made a deal with Turkey more than a year ago that has helped reduce the number of new refugees arriving to EU nations.


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Story reprint published by  July 25, 2017, 05:26 CET UTC +02:00


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