Germany issues travel warning for Turkey as Merkel escalates tensions over human rights abuses

Germans make up 15% of tourists arriving in Turkey every year

Kenza Bryan
Friday 21 July 2017 18:58
The Turkish President addressing his supporters in Istanbul
The Turkish President addressing his supporters in Istanbul

Germany has advised “heightened caution” for citizens visiting Turkey, in the latest sign of escalating tensions between the two countries.

Sigmar Gabriel, Germany’s foreign minister, flew home early from a North Sea holiday to announce a “re-orientation” of the country’s policies towards Turkey.

“We want Turkey to be a part of the West, or at least remain in its current position, but it takes two to tango,” he said at a press conference in Berlin.

The minister used the case of prominent German human rights activist Peter Steudtner to illustrate that “German citizens in Turkey are no longer safe from arbitrary arrest” and to highlight risks associated with investing in the country.

Mr Steudtner was arrested earlier this week at a conference in Istanbul, where he was teaching Turkish colleagues about IT security and non-violent conflict resolution.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu accused Germany of “double standards” over the warnings, and told journalists in Cyprus that the two countries needed to focus on “long-term goals”

​Germany is also putting all arms projects with Turkey on hold, according to government sources speaking to daily newspaper Bild.

Yearly trade between the two countries is ‎€37bn (£33.1bn).

The hardening in Germany’s stance comes after six German activists were remanded in custody on terrorism charges on Tuesday.

The incident brought the number of German nationals imprisoned in Turkey for political reasons since the attempted coup to 22.

There is also tension around Turkey’s refusal to allow a delegation of MPs to visit German troops stationed at Turkey’s Incirlik.

The German government points to the arrest of 50,000 soldiers, police officers, judges and academics in Turkey since the putsch as evidence of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s authoritarianism.

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