Hannover has been added to the list of German cities which have ended the cooperation with the Turkish cities in the framework of “sister cities program.” Lower Saxony Prime Minister Stephan Weil has reportedly stated that the “sister city protocol” signed between Hannover and Turkey’s Konya in 2014 has no longer any meaning.
Numerous big cities in Germany have previously been involved in sister cities program with Turkish cities. Following the Turkish regime under the despotic rule of autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has started to threaten and insult Germany and to hold German citizens, including journalists and human rights defenders, hostage the sister city program has been negatively affected.
Before Hannover, the capital city of Lower Saxony state of Germany, German cities Duisburg, Oberhausen and Hamm had announced that they stopped joint projects with partner city municipalities in Turkey. The municipalities in question were all held by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Social Democratic politician Stephan Weil stated that it is no longer possible to work together with Konya and added that “Political developments show that this issue won’t be resolved in the near future.”
In 2014, an agreement signed by Konya Governorate and the Lower Saxony Prime Minister Stephan Weil had aimed at showing joint efforts in the spheres of economy, research and education. The mayors of Konya and Hannover had also signed a sister city protocol.
The city administration of Dortmund had also announced on July that their relationship with sister city Trabzon was over. A similar statement had also come from the city administration of Duisburg over its sister city of Gaziantep. The city administration of Oberhausen had announced the end of their joint projects with Mersin metropolitan municipality, and the city council of Hamm ended all joint projects with Afyonkarahisar.
Turkey’s relations with Germany have been strained since Turkey’s crackdown on opposition groups, including journalists and human rights defenders, after a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.