Monday, 21 August, 2017

Germany Vows to Defend Firms Doing Business in Turkey

A funeral for victims of the A funeral for victims of the
Erik Tate | 21 July, 2017, 00:47

The German government increased pressure on Turkey Thursday after the jailing of a human rights activist, telling all citizens traveling there to exercise caution and threatening to withhold backing for German investments in Turkey. His statements signal a more confrontational stance to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally after escalation in tensions.

President Tayyip Erdogan's spokesman on Thursday said the Turkish government did not play a role in the publication by its state-run news agency of locations of what appeared to be US military posts in Syria.

Alongside Steudtner, they include two journalists, Deniz Yucel and Mesale Tolu, who have been accused of aiding terror groups.

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Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, a day after his ministry summoned Turkey's ambassador, interrupted his holidays and returned to Berlin to deliver his unusually strong comments towards President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Relations between Turkey and Germany started worsening a year ago when the German parliament unanimously passed a resolution calling the killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire "genocide".

Amnesty International has openly criticised the crackdown and is calling for the release of Eser and the other activists.

The dispute came after Germany last month pulled out 260 troops from Turkey's Incirlik base, from where a multinational coalition is fighting the Islamic State jihadist group, and redeployed them and their Tornado surveillance jets to Jordan. Gabriel, however, said that Germany has consistently had to fight for consular access to Germans arrested over the past year.

"I don't see how we can continue guaranteeing companies' investments in Turkey", Gabriel said in response to reports by German media outlets that Turkey blacklisted dozens of German companies it suspects of supporting terrorism.

Many companies have also been seized on allegations of links to terrorism.

He described Gabriel's comments as "ill-tempered" and said his German counterpart's comments do not comply with norms of global relations.

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Gabriel said, from now on, his government would not be in a position to encourage German businesspeople to invest in Turkey, and would not provide investment guarantees for German companies.

"We can not advise investing in a country that lacks security and where enterprises are equaled to terrorists", the minister said.

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. The German government said their goal was to carry out propaganda in Germany and banned them from holding these events, sparking criticism in Ankara, which accused Berlin of using "Nazi methods" against Turks. The measures are linked to the arrests of human rights activists in the country.

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

Chancellor Angela Merkel has criticised the detention of the activists as "unjustified" and pledged to "advocate for (Steudtner) on all levels".

"Certainly we couldn't have accepted the deal", Germany's foreign ministry said. "There is no such thing".

German Justice Minister Heiko Maas also weighed in on behalf of the detained activists.

A Foreign Ministry statement on Thursday said the two countries were going through a crisis of confidence and blamed it on what it said was Germany's "double-standard attitude" toward Turkey.

Erdogan has demanded Germany extradite people he blames for conspiring against him, mostly alleged followers of US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen whom he accuses of orchestrating the coup, a charge Gulen denies.

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