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Turkey is worth the effort - Merkel

Turkey is worth the effort - Merkel
By Catherine Hardy with REUTERS
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The German Chancellor has stepped in to soothe relations between Berlin and Ankara after a series of tit-for-tat barbs in recent days.


Angela Merkel has said everything must be done to resolve Germany’s current disagreement with Turkey.

The chancellor says Berlin and Ankara’s many ties – like NATO membership and their joint fight against Islamic terrorism – mean the relationship between the two countries is valuable.

Ankara has been angered by the cancellation of several rallies by Turkish ministers in Germany.

Berlin has demanded the immediate release of a Turkish-German journalist detained on terrorism charges.

What Merkel said

“There are, on the one hand, many common European-Turkish interests and, on the other hand, there are profound differences between the European Union and Turkey and between Germany and Turkey. We are feeling that again these days,” Merkel told the Bundestag lower house of parliament.

“From our point of view, it is worth making every endeavour to advocate for German-Turkish relations but on the basis of our values and our expectations, and with clarity.”

The context

Acrimony between the two NATO allies shows no sign of abating.

On Wednesday, Turkey’s foreign minister accused Germany of hostility toward his country and Islam, while Berlin complained of increased Turkish espionage on German soil.

On Monday, Angela Merkel had said there was “absolutely no justification” for comments by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan comparing German bans on some political rallies to “fascist actions” reminiscent of the Nazi era.

Ankara is furious over the cancellation of several constitutional referendum rallies planned by Turkish ministers in Germany.

Turkish ministers want to rally support among Germany’s large ethnic Turkish community for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s bid to increase his powers in a referendum on April 16.

Germany says they can do so, providing they respect local laws. However, several rallies have been cancelled locally on the grounds of security concerns.

Ahead of Turkey’s upcoming constitutional referendum, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu spoke at a rally in Hamburg on Tuesday evening.

Deniz Yucel

Berlin continues to press Ankara for consular access to and a fair judicial process for Turkish-German journalist Deniz Yucel.

His arrest in Turkey on terrorism charges has further strained ties in recent weeks.

The editor-in-chief of Yucel’s employer, the newspaper Die Welt, wrote an open letter to Erdogan on Wednesday. It said the current state of bilateral relations did not reflect what the two nations had in common.

“You can change that. You, of all people. Releasing Deniz Yucel would send a signal,” Ulf Porschardt wrote in the letter.

Spying claims

Also on Wednesday, the German domestic intelligence agency BfV, expressed concern about increased Turkish espionage in Germany.


The agency says internal Turkish divisions over Erdogan’s referendum are playing out among ethnic Turks based in Germany.

BfV chief Hans-Georg Maassen warned of “proxy fights” between supporters of the militant Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) and right-wing Turkish nationalists on German streets.

German intelligence has reported an increase in Turkish spying in #Germany

— dwnews (@dwnews) 8 mars 2017

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