Despite Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu having said during a visit to Berlin that Turkey is no less safe than other European countries, the German government has indicated its reluctance to lift a travel warning as long as the Turkish government keeps in place a state of emergency declared in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
Germany, which issued a travel warning for Turkey back in July, citing the risk of detention, is not prepared to reconsider its travel warning as long as Turkey continues to impose a state of emergency, acting German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said following a meeting with his Turkish counterpart, Çavuşoglu, on Tuesday.
According to a report by Deutsche Welle (DW), Çavuşoğlu urged his German counterpart to withdraw the travel warning for Turkey, arguing that it “did not reflect the good, friendly relations between the two countries.” However, Gabriel cited the ongoing state of emergency in Turkey as well as the arbitrary detention of joint German-Turkish nationals, as justification for the warning.
Germany’s top diplomat reportedly said he looked forward to Turkey lifting the state of emergency and the return to normal relations between the two states. Germans deserved to visit Turkey, “one of the most beautiful countries in the world,” he said. Gabriel later tweeted that general bilateral relations between the two countries had improved in recent months. “It is now important to build on these steps,” he added.
Opposition politician and former German Green Party leader Cem Özdemir welcomed the diplomatic dialogue with the Turkish government but warned the government against a return to business-as-usual. “There can be no normalization of the German-Turkish relationship without the release of imprisoned journalists and opposition figures,” he said. Four German citizens are being held in Turkish custody.
In response to the detention of journalists and rights activists in Turkey, the German Foreign Ministry issued a statement last July warning German citizens they risked detention if they traveled to the country.
The number of Germans visiting Turkey has plummeted in recent years. In the first 10 months of 2015, 5.1 million Germans visited Turkey. During the same time period in 2017, only 3.3 million Germans visited.
Çavuşoğlu also asked Berlin on Monday to detain and extradite Syrian Kurdish leader Salih Muslim. Turkish government has accused Muslim, who was seen at a pro-Kurdish demonstration in Berlin on Saturday, of being a terrorist. Gabriel told Çavuşoğlu on Tuesday that Germany would treat Turkey’s extradition request for Muslim “in accordance with the rule of law.”
Gabriel told reporters during a joint news conference with Çavuşoğlu that “We have in fact received a verbal note from the Turkish foreign ministry, and we will send this request, as always, to the [German] justice ministry and they will examine it on constitutional grounds.”