Published: Sat, July 22, 2017
Markets | By Erika Turner

Germany Sends Turkey Warning Signals

Germany Sends Turkey Warning Signals

After a week of a war of words between Turkish and German senior officials, it was good to hear Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım and Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci's constructive messages on the Ankara-Berlin ties.

Germany has also issued a travel warning for its citizens coming to Turkey after the arrest of human rights activists in Istanbul. "You (Germany) do not have the power to smear Turkey. or the power to scare us", he added.

German officials say they have not had full consular access to arrested German activist Peter Steudtner, who was accused of terrorism - an allegation Berlin has dismissed as absurd. Both men assured German investors in Turkey that there were no terror-related investigations, as suggested by some media outlets, and that they were under the protection of Turkish laws.

In an unusually hard-hitting statement that swept aside any diplomatic niceties, the German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel on Thursday also warned German firms against investment in Turkey and spoke of an "overhaul" of the entire relationship.

Germany is Turkey's largest economic and trade partner and German investments in Turkey have been helping the growth of this country since decades.

Germany's finance minister, an influential figure in Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative party, hinted that it could be worse for Turkey.

Two other steps are subject to discussion with EU partners, many also running out of patience with Ankara: discussing the future of financial aid allocated to help prepare Turkey to join the bloc, and examining credits from European development banks.

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The Turkish government criticized Gabriel's remarks and the announced change in the German position.

"These accusations are obviously unfounded and have simply been dragged out irrationally", the foreign minister said, adding that Steudtner had taken no position on current Turkish politics and was quite possibly present in the country for the first time.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's spokesman called Gabriel's comments "unfortunate", and the Foreign Ministry accused Berlin of "blackmail and threats", saying that it would not make concessions regarding Turkey's judiciary.

That means the Federal Office of Economics and Export Control (Bafa) probably can not issue new export approvals, but projects already agreed will not be affected initially. While details remaining unclear, such a move would mark an unprecedented step for defence relations between allied North Atlantic Treaty Organisation partners.

German-Turkish relations have been souring for over a year since last July's coup attempt in Turkey.

Hoping to win support amongst Turkish migrant communities for a controversial constitutional referendum which ultimately passed in April 2017, Erdogan and members of his AKP party ran up against heavy opposition in several European capitals. Turkey accuses them of supporting terrorism. Amid all this sound and fury, German troops have begun to withdraw from İncirlik base to a non-NATO country, Jordan, with Ankara refusing to give permission to a visit by German lawmakers to another base in the Central Anatolian province of Konya where around two dozen German troops have been stationed as part of NATO's AWACS mission.

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