Germany Vows to Defend Firms Doing Business in Turkey
21 July, 2017, 01:02 | Author: Sherri Guerrero
The immediate trigger of Germany's ire was a Turkish court's decision Tuesday to jail Steudtner and the other activists, including Amnesty International's Turkey director and a Swedish IT trainer, who were detained in a July 5 police raid on a hotel on the island of Buyukada, where they were attending a digital security workshop. "We need to be clearer than we have been until now so those responsible in Ankara understand that such policies are not without consequences". "We can't turn a blind eye on it".
"We can not advise investing in a country that lacks security and where enterprises are equaled to terrorists", the minister said. He cast doubt on the future of government export guarantees for Germancompanies' investments in Turkey.
"I can't see how we as the German government can continue to guarantee corporate investments in Turkey if there is the threat of arbitrary expropriation for political reasons". "I can not imagine talks on expanding the EU customs union when Turkey detains EU citizens without any grounds", he said. "We should focus on long term mutual goals", he said.
He pointed to Germany's election in September, saying: "It's unacceptable to try and damage economic relations, try and arouse doubts in the minds of German investors, for the sake of petty electoral calculations".
"In this environment it is hard to think about German companies making new investments in Turkey", Volker Treier, DIHK foreign trade chief, told Reuters.
The partner of a German human rights activist, who has been jailed in Turkey, has called his detention "absurd". "Any German citizen may fall victim" to Turkey's arbitrariness, he noted. After months of tensions over North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troop visits, imprisoned journalists and barbs peppered with Nazi references, tensions came to a head this week over the detention of a German human-rights activist.
"It is up to Turkey to determine its stance on these values".
"We strongly condemn statements that German citizens who travel to Turkey are not safe and that German companies in Turkey have hesitations and concerns", he said. Steudtner doesn't have any acquaintances among local politicians and he has never made any publications in local media.
In unscheduled remarks at a ceremony for athletes, Merkel said the case was another example of innocent people being "caught up in the wheels of the justice system".
Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel announced a "re-orientation" of German policy toward Turkey on Thursday, threatening to send already stormy relations with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan into a downward spiral.
"It is appalling to accuse Amnesty and other rights organisations of terrorism", the German foreign ministry said in a statement.
Turkey has frequently complained that the PKK and the Gulen movement, named terrorist organizations in Turkey, are given free rein to operate in Germany. He assured that "there is no danger for German citizens traveling to Turkey". The Turkish leadership demanded that Berlin should publicly distance itself from the resolution.
Erdogan has fumed over Germany's decision to deny him and other Turkish politicians opportunities to campaign in Germany, home to the largest Turkish community overseas due to its "guest worker" programme of the 1950s and 1960s. At the referendum, almost two thirds of them voted in support of Erdogan's reforms, alarming local observers and politicians. Merkel was key in pressing for a refugee deal between the European Union and Turkey under which Erdogan keeps mainly Syrian refugees in Turkey in return for billions of euros in aid and progress toward European Union membership.
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