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Turkey - Germany relations


Why are german and turkish telations so strained?

German Parliament discussed Turkey’s Operation Olive Branch

15 March 2018

German Bundestag, the national parliament of the Federal Republic of Germany, discussed Turkey’s military operation in Afrin, Syria on Thursday. Turkey’s Ambassador to Germany, Ali Kemal Aydın followed the Bundestag session on Afrin. 

Armin Paulus Hampel talked during the session on behalf of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AFD) party, saying that Turkey’s operation violates international law, while Ulrich Lechte talking on behalf of the classical liberal Free Democratic Party demanded that the German government end arms sales to Turkey.

Member of the German Green Party Claudia Roth asked the German government “what more is needed to clearly express that Turkey is acting against international law?” while Nils Schmid from the coalition government partner Socialist Party said, “we are asking the Turkish government to return to the peace process”. 

Kurdish groups protested outside the Bundestag throughout the session. 

Germany had announced a temporary moratorium on arms sales to Turkey in February until German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yücel’s release from Turkish detention on Feb. 16. Yet, Germany has issued more licenses for arms sales to Turkey in the 54 days since the beginning of the Turkish offensive against the Kurdish-held Syrian enclave of Afrin than in the whole of 2017.

Germany launches investigations into controversial boxing club linked to Turkish gov’t

13 March 2018

German prosecutors on Tuesday morning initiated investigations into members of Osmanen Germania BC, a controversial boxing club in three regions of the country that are linked to the Turkish government and its National Intelligence Organization (MİT).

According to a statement from the German Interior Ministry on Tuesday, the investigations and search warrants issued for the group’s members were prompted by an order from German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere in the North Rhine-Westphalia, Baden-Württemberg and Hessen regions.

Members of the group are accused of tax evasion, prostitution and involvement in inflicting bodily harm.

The ministry statement said there is a suspicion that the purpose and activities of Osmanen Germania BC run counter to criminal laws.

In the statement the minister said the federal government of Germany and the regional governments are showing that they do not tolerate criminal activities, regardless of their social background.

“With this measure, we are showing once again that our state of law is resolutely and consistently against any form of crime.”

Osmanen Germania BC currently has 22 local groups throughout Germany, with a large part of the approximately 300 members having Turkish roots, according to the ministry’s statement.

The ministry also said the club describes itself as a boxing club and pretends to want to “get [young people] off the street,” but in fact its purpose lies in the violent expansion of territory and power as well as in self-assertion against competing, rocker-like groups.

According to research conducted by investigative news program “Frontal 21” by German public broadcaster ZDF and the Stuttgarter Nachrichten daily and based on leaked German police wiretaps and surveillance records in late 2017, Metin Külünk, a deputy from Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), directly and indirectly provided funds to Osmanen Germania BC.

Külünk, a close confidant of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, reportedly provided money to the boxing gang to purchase weapons, organize protests and target critics of the Turkish leader, according to Deutsche Welle.

The results of the research suggest a relationship between Osmanen Germania BC and Külünk as well as Turkey’s MİT, the AKP’s European lobbying organization and Erdoğan himself, DW reported in December.

Back then, Külünk described these allegations as a plot by followers of the Gülen movement, accused by the Turkish government of orchestrating a failed coup in 2016.

“None of the activities or visits I made in my personal capacity or on behalf of the AKP were illegal. On the contrary, transparency has always been a priority,” Külünk said.

He said the accusations defaming Erdoğan were typical of FETÖ, a derogatory term coined by the AKP government to describe the Gülen movement. ( Source

Germany to treat Turkish extradition request according to the law

6 March
Germany will process Turkey's request for the extradition of Syrian Kurdish former party leader Salih Muslim according to the rule of law, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel told a joint news conference with visiting Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.

Muslim is the former head of the predominantly Democratic Union Party (PYD), Syria's main Kurdish party. The armed wing of the PYD is currently defending the northwestern Syrian enclave of Afrin against a Turkish military offensive that began on Jan. 20.

Turkey considers the PYD an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that has been fighting inside Turkey for more than three decades. The United States and the European Union recognise the PKK as a terrorist organization. The PYD denies any direct link to the PKK.

"We have in fact received a verbal note from the Turkish Foreign Ministry, and we will send this request, as always, to the Justice Ministry and they will examine it on constitutional grounds," Gabriel said.

Muslim was detained and then released in the Czech capital Prague last month as a result of an Interpol warrant issued by Turkey. He then travelled to Germany. Muslim said the allegations against him were false and he would remain in European Union and cooperate in any further proceedings. Source

Turkey to press Germany on Syrian Kurdish former party leader

6 March
The presence of former Democratic Union Party (PYD) joint leader Salih Muslim in Germany will be on the agenda when Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu meets his German counterpart on Tuesday evening, German state broadcaster Deutsche Welle said .

The PYD, a Syrian Kurdish group whose armed wing, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), is currently fighting a cross-border Turkish military operation in the Syrian area of Afrin, belongs to the same umbrella organisation as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a Kurdish group inside Turkey that the European Union recognises as a terrorist organisation.

Turkey requested the arrest and extradition of Muslim from Germany after he attended a protest meeting there at the weekend.

He was arrested in the Czech Republic last week after a similar request from Ankara, but later released.

The repair of German-Turkish relations following the release of German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yücel from Turkish custody after a year in detention will also be on the agenda, the broadcaster said. Source

Germany won’t withdraw travel warning while Turkey’s emergency rule still in force.

6 March
Germany is not prepared to reconsider its travel warning as long as Turkey continues to impose a state of emergency, acting German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said following a meeting with his Turkish counterpart, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, on Tuesday, Deutsche Welle reported.

The meeting in Berlin, part of Çavuşoğlu’s third trip to Germany since the beginning of 2018, took place amid efforts by both countries to repair their damaged diplomatic relationship.

Çavuşoğlu urged his German counterpart to withdraw the travel warning for Turkey that was issued last July, arguing that it “does not reflect the good, friendly relations between the two countries.”

Gabriel, however, cited the ongoing state of emergency in Turkey as well as the arbitrary detention of German-Turkish nationals as justification for the warning.

Germany’s top diplomat said he looked forward to Turkey lifting the state of emergency and the return to normal relations between the two states. Germans deserve to visit Turkey, “one of the most beautiful countries in the world,” he said.

Gabriel later tweeted that bilateral relations between the two countries had improved in recent months. “It is now important to build on these steps,” he added.

Opposition politician and former German Green Party leader Cem Özdemir welcomed the diplomatic dialogue with Turkey but warned the government against a return to business-as-usual. “There can be no normalization of the German-Turkish relationship without the release of imprisoned journalists and opposition figures,” he said. Four German citizens are being held in Turkish custody.

Berlin and Ankara have tried to improve their relationship following multiple diplomatic spats in the past few years. Turkey removed one major headache in mid-February when it released German journalist Deniz Yücel. The German government had harshly criticized Turkey for the dual national’s yearlong captivity.

In response to the detention of journalists and rights activists in Turkey, the German Foreign Ministry issued a statement last July warning German citizens that they risked detention if they traveled to the country.

The number of Germans visiting Turkey has plummeted in recent years. In the first 10 months of 2015, 5.1 million Germans visited Turkey. During the same time period in 2017, only 3.3 million Germans visited.

Ankara asked Berlin on Monday to detain and extradite Syrian Kurdish leader Salih Muslim. Turkey has accused Muslim, who was seen at a pro-Kurdish demonstration in Berlin on Saturday, of being a terrorist.

Gabriel told Çavuşoğlu on Tuesday that Germany would treat Turkey’s extradition request for Muslim “in accordance with the rule of law.”

Gabriel told reporters during a joint press conference with Çavuşoğlu: “We have in fact received a verbal note from the Turkish Foreign Ministry, and we will send this request, as always, to the [German] justice ministry, and they will examine it on constitutional grounds.” Source

Turkey asks Germany to put end to travel warning
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu publicly asked his German counterpart during a joint press conference on March 6 to cancel a continued travel warning for Turkey. Read more............

“Germany’s travel warning does not reflect the reality of Turkey or the level of mutual relations. We request that the German Foreign Ministry reviews this warning,” Çavuşoğlu said ahead of a meeting with Sigmar Gabriel in Berlin.

Germany issued on Sept. 5, 2017 a safety and travel warning for its citizens planning to go to Turkey over the “arbitrary imprisonment of German nationals.”

Çavuşoğlu’s visit comes as Ankara seeks to mend ties with Germany, a NATO ally and key trade partner.

“We are of the opinion that it’s time for Turkey and Germany to return to normal life,” Prime Minister Binali Yıldrırım had told journalists traveling with him on board on Feb. 14, ahead of a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The two leaders vowed the next day to improve strained ties, which particularly deteriorated after Berlin prevented ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) politicians from holding rallies ahead of a constitutional amendment referendum in April last year.

On Feb. 16, Turkey released German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yücel, who was jailed over one year ago, signaling the government’s hope to mend ties with Berlin.

Germany to ‘examine’ Muslim’s extradition

Ankara has long demanded that Germany prevent rallies in the country by supporters of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), as well as the extradition of suspected PKK members and suspects in cases related to the July 2016 coup attempt.

Gabriel said March 6 that the German Justice Ministry will examine Turkey’s request for the extradition of Salih Muslim, the former co-chair of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), and “make a decision based on constitutional principles.”

Muslim was released in Prague last week and then spoke at a demonstration in Berlin on March 3.

“We have received a verbal note from the Turkish Foreign Ministry. We will send this request, as always, to the Justice Ministry and they will examine it on constitutional grounds,” Gabriel told reporters.

Touching on the recent United Nations Security Council resolution for a cease-fire in Syria, Çavuşoğlu repeated Ankara’s official position that the decision does not cover Turkey’s ongoing “Operation Olive Branch” in the northern Syrian district of Afrin.

“We are struggling against the PKK and the YPG,” he said, referring to the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the armed wing of the PYD.

“The territorial integrity of Syria is very important. Turkey and Germany think the same on this issue,” Çavuşoğlu said, adding that Turkey is “extremely sensitive about not harming civilians in Afrin.”

Meanwhile, the Turkish foreign minister also said Ankara welcomed the recent Social Democrat (SPD) vote in favor of joining a new coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats Union (CDU).

“We will talk about how we will accelerate the momentum that we have gained in relations, strengthen the current positive environment, and see how we can open a new page together with the foundation of a new government,” he said, emphasizing that regional cooperation between Berlin and Ankara is “crucial.”Source

Germany approves 31 arms deals with Turkey amid signs of normalization

Germany approved more than 30 defense industry deals with Turkey in December and January, a report from the German Ministry of Economy said.

According to the report by the ministry prepared due to a parliamentary inquiry by the leftist politician Sevim Dağdelen, "from 18 December to 24 January 2018, 31 permits were issued for military armaments to Turkey."

The government has said that it has approved military armaments with code numbers covering the areas of bombs, torpedoes, missiles, fire control and surveillance systems, land vehicles, ships and marine equipment, aeronautical and electronic equipment, as well as special tanks and related parts and equipment. Read the full article

Turkey, German company join forces for third locally-made submarine

Turkey's drive to keep its defense industry ‘national and domestic' continues with the construction of a third submarine, which is being built in cooperation with a German company. Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım inaugurated the project Sunday.

xpanding its locally-made arsenal, Turkey officially launched the construction of Murat Reis, the third in a new submarine fleet made with local resources and the assistance of a German company. Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım joined dignitaries at the inaugural welding of the submarine in the Gölcük shipyard in northwestern Turkey Sunday. Read the full article

Report: 8,480 Turkish citizens sought asylum in Germany in 2017

17 February
According to data from the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), 8,480 Turkish nationals claimed asylum in Germany in 2017, Deutsche Welle Turkish reported.

DW also said the number of Turkish asylum seekers has been on the rise in 2018 as well, with 741 applications from Turkish citizens in the month of January.

Turkey ranked fourth among countries that sent the highest number of refugees to Germany in January 2018. Source

Turkey must consider NATO’s interests - Merkel

17 February
Turkey must make sure that it avoids damaging the NATO alliance during its Afrin operations, the German chancellor was quoted by left-wing newspaper BirGün as saying.

“Turkey has the right to ensure its own security, but it must consider the interests of NATO too,” Angela Merkel said following a meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May, advising that Turkey better co-operate its actions with the alliance.

After photographs emerged showing German Leopard 2 tanks being used in Turkey’s Afrin operation, reactions from the German public had led Merkel to announce a moratorium on tank sales to Turkey, BirGün said. Source

Turkish and German foreign ministers meet in Munich, pledge closer dialogue

The foreign ministers of Turkey and Germany agreed on Feb. 16 to work towards improving bilateral relations after a period of tensions between Ankara and Berlin. 

Speaking to reporters in Munich following a meeting with his German counterpart Sigmar Gabriel, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said they have agreed on deepening dialogue and cooperation. 

"As foreign ministers, we will continue working together to strengthen and deepen our bilateral relations between Turkey and Germany as well as our cooperation on many regional issues,” Çavuşoğlu said. 

The meeting, on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, coincided with the release of German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yücel, who was jailed in Turkey last year.

Çavuşoğlu said that Yücel’s release was an independent decision of the court and the government did not have any influence on the ruling. He said that the Turkish government only asked the Ministry of Justice to speed up the proceedings. Read the full article

Turkish court releases German journalist Deniz Yucel

16 Feb.

A Turkish court on Friday released a Turkish-German journalist who was arrested by the Turkish police last year. The 32nd High Penal Court in Istanbul ordered the release of Deniz Yucel, a correspondent for German daily Die Welt, who was arrested in February 2017 on suspicion of spreading terrorist propaganda.

The court also accepted an indictment against Yucel demanding up to 18 years in prison on charges of spreading terrorist propaganda and inciting public hatred and enmity. The court released him with a preliminary proceedings report.

The arrest of Yucel and around a dozen German citizens, on suspicion of aiding terrorist groups, had been a source of friction between Ankara and Berlin. Despite repeated calls by German politicians for the release of their citizens, the Turkish government ruled out any political influence on the judiciary and advised them to wait for the decision of the courts. Source

Merkel: Normalization of ties with Turkey still faces many hurdles

German Chancellor Angela Merkel told the press on Thursday that said she saw numerous hurdles still in the way of normalization of German-Turkish relations after a meeting in Berlin with Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, Deutsche Welle reported.

There has been tension between the two countries over the past year, especially in light of increased powers acquired by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan following a controversial referendum last year. Merkel, however, said, “We want to intensify our contacts.”

While Berlin claims six German citizens are being held in Turkey for political reasons, it was the case of German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yücel that had attracted much of the attention ahead of the talks as it has been a major reason for diplomatic tension between the two countries.

Yücel, a journalist for Germany’s Die Welt newspaper who was detained on Feb. 14, 2017 as part of an investigation for publishing stories on the leaked emails of Erdoğan’s son-in-law and Energy Minister Berat Albayrak, was arrested by a court on Feb. 27 and sent to Silivri Prison in İstanbul on charges of spreading “terrorist propaganda” and “inciting hatred.”

Merkel was asked about Yücel’s case and replied that she hoped for a fast and fair process. While Yücel’s case had been discussed in the meeting, there was no link between it and other issues under discussion, she said.

“I said during the talks that we hope for a fast and constitutional [judicial] process for Deniz Yücel,” Merkel told journalists on Thursday. Source

Merkel underlines state of law in Turkish PM meeting

German Chancellor Angela Merkel underlined the importance of the state of law during talks with Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım that touched on jailed German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yücel, the news site Gazete Duvar reported on Thursday.

Yıldırım stopped in Berlin after visiting Belarus, telling reporters on the way that he thought the time had come to normalise Turkish-German relations after a tense period that saw Turkish and German leaders exchange accusations of authoritarianism.

One major point of contention for Germany is the imprisonment of Yücel, who has been held on pre-trial detention since February 2017 on espionage charges, but has yet see an indictment.

“The Deniz Yücel is of great importance to us,” said the German chancellor at a joint press conference. “He is being held even though they have not prepared an indictment. We discussed the principles of a state of law, which must be respected.”

Yıldırım responded to the comments on Yücel’s case by saying that Turkey’s courts had been too busy to process the case, as a result of the high number of arrests following the July 2016 failed coup attempt. “I hope the hearings can take place as soon as possible,” he said. Source


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