Germany suspends arms deals with Turkey as German firms targeted by Erdoğan regime

Germany's Economy Minister Brigitte Zypries

Germany has decided to suspend arms deals with Turkey amid increasing political tensions between the two countries, the German daily Bild reported on Thursday. According to the report, which cites government sources, the decision to suspend deals covers ongoing projects and planned arms projects.

Meanwhile, German Economy Minister Brigitte Zypries said on Thursday that it is extremely difficult for German companies to make investments in Turkey under the current political climate in the country. “If respectable German companies are suddenly put on ‘black lists’ and branded as supporters of terrorism then this amounts to a climate that makes new business and investments in Turkey extremely difficult,” Zypries said.

She added: “The German government and I would of course defend German companies from totally unjustifiable and incomprehensible accusations. This also applies above all to the employees of German companies.”

Uncertainty among German companies has been felt significantly since the failed putsch, DIHK foreign trade chief Volker Treier told Reuters after Germany cast doubt on Turkey’s aspirations to join the European Union and issued new travel advice warning of risks to German citizens there.

“The current developments considerably augment this insecurity,” Treier added.  “In this environment it is hard to think about German companies making new investments in Turkey.”

Turkey has named 68 companies including Germany’s industry giants Daimler and BASF as supporters of the Gülen movement in a list sent to Germany’s federal police, according to Die Zeit weekly.

The list, forwarded to Germany several weeks ago, names the car maker Daimler and chemical company BASF as backers of terrorism, but also includes a Turkish fast food restaurant and a late-night food store, Die Zeit reported on Wednesday.

The list was sent to German authorities several weeks ago, the newspaper said recalling that Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced to have sent 4,500 files on alleged supporters of the movement to Germany and demanded that they be extradited to Turkey. “In Berlin, the list is described as ‘absurd’ and ‘ridiculous’,” the weekly added.

Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek said on Thursday that Turkey is not investigating Daimler and BASF.

However, at home, Turkey has confiscated 966 companies with assets of $13 billion over alleged links to the Gülen movement so far.

The tension between Germany and Turkey escalated after six human rights activists, including Amnesty International’s (AI) Turkey Director İdil Eser and German human rights consultant Peter Steudtner, who were detained on July 5 during a workshop at a hotel on İstanbul’s Büyükada, were arrested by an İstanbul court on Tuesday.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said his country is being forced to reorient its Turkey policy and warned its citizens against the risks of travelling to Turkey, showing signs of growing impatience and disappointment after detention of rights defenders on terror charges, which Gabriel argued, was “obviously unfounded and have simply been dragged out irrationally.”

Germany is planning to review European Union negotiations with Turkey and will also review export guarantees to German companies investing in Turkey due to the lack of “legal security” in Turkey.

Criticizing German Foreign Ministry statements that implied reorienting its Turkey policy, spokesman for Erdoğan, İbrahim Kalın said on Thursday that Germany should think more rationally.

In addition to Steudtner, German journalist Deniz Yücel and seven other Germans are currently in custody in Turkey.

President Erdoğan is believed to be detaining German nationals to force the deportation of Turkish asylum seekers, who Erdoğan accuses of having mounted a botched coup attempt on July 15, 2016, from Germany.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016  that killed 249. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. Turkey’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup. (SCF with July 21, 2017

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