Amid tension between Berlin and Ankara, Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Thursday that he was hopeful about Turkey’s relations with Germany and praised German Chancellor Angela Merkel for avoiding to criticize and interfere with Turkey’s policies.
Erdoğan’s remarks came during an interview with Reuters at the Peninsula hotel on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
“I am quite hopeful relations will improve. … We have no problem with the German public. We have a problem with some officials’ wrong attitude against Turkey,” Erdoğan said.
Merkel said during a televised debate earlier this month that Turkey should not become a member of the European Union – Turkey’s largest trading partner with which it has a customs union.
She said she would talk to Germany’s EU partners to reach a compromise on ending Turkey’s accession talks with the bloc.
“Things never went well for the last 54 years regarding Turkey’s EU membership … We have been lingering at the doorstep of the EU and things have got worse. They have never kept their promises,” Erdoğan said.
Merkel has also said on Wednesday that they do not want any conflicts from Turkey to be imported to Germany. Merkel’s remarks came during an interview with Deutsche Welle on Wednesday.
Referring to the arrest of German citizens who are jailed in Turkey on baseless accusations, Merkel shared her concern about the repercussions of Turkey’s conflicts on Germany.
“What worries us is the fact that different groups from Turkey are maybe spying on or surveilling each other. We do not want that. We don’t want to import any conflicts from Turkey to Germany. We will make sure that all groups can live here peacefully and unharmed,” said Merkel.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry recently issued a travel warning for citizens visiting Germany, saying there has been anti-Turkish and racist rhetoric by German politicians during campaigns for the upcoming elections, also adding that Berlin has been supporting terrorist groups.
Erdoğan on Sept. 6 blasted Merkel and her Social Democratic rival Martin Schulz for their remarks against Turkey’s EU membership.
“I’m not saying you’re a Nazi, a fascist. I am explaining the incident. … This incident is Nazism. This is fascism,” Erdoğan said.
Berlin’s relations with Ankara are strained by Turkey’s crackdown on government critics after a failed coup last year. Germany and its partners in the European Union say the crackdown undermines democracy.
Turkey and Germany are also at odds over Berlin’s refusal to extradite asylum seekers Turkish President Erdoğan and his government accuse of involvement in the botched coup against him.
Germany has been angered by Turkey’s arrest of around a dozen German citizens, including German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yücel, who has been held for more than 200 days.
Merkel, whose conservatives are expected to win a federal election in Germany on Sept. 24 and secure her a fourth term in office, recently said Germany would restrict some arms sales to Turkey.
Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel of the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), who are trailing the conservatives in opinion polls, had earlier said that all major arms exports to Turkey had been put on hold. (SCF with turkishminute.com)