Turkey has blacklisted more than 680 German companies it suspects of supporting terrorism, a German security source told Reuters on Friday. According to Reuters, this is 10 times the number that was previously reported on Wednesday by the German Die Zeit weekly.
The report by Die Zeit said Turkey had named 68 companies, including Germany’s industry giants Daimler and BASF, as supporters of the faith-based Gülen movement in a list sent to Germany’s federal police. The list names carmaker Daimler and chemicals group BASF as backers of terrorism but also includes a Turkish fast food restaurant and a late-night food store.
The list was sent to German authorities several weeks ago, the newspaper said, recalling that Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan claimed 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.
Turkish officials, including Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, denied the news reports, calling them “absolutely false.” Turkey’s Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekçi has also said that “The allegation that Turkish authorities gave Germany the names of German companies linked to Gülen is not true. This is fake news,” during an interview with Reuters on Thursday.
Meanwhile, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said Germany would reorient its Turkey policy and review export credit guarantees to German companies investing in Turkey due to the lack of “legal security” in Turkey. Gabriel’s remarks came after Turkey’s arrest of six human rights activists on Tuesday, including a German national. The companies which are most likely to be affected by the warning are Deutsche Bank AG, Siemens AG and Volkswagen AG as well as German manufacturers that employ thousands of workers in Turkey.
After statements from German officials warned their citizens against the risks involved in travelling to Turkey and implied a revision of export guarantees due to lack of “legal security” in Turkey, Zeybekçi said that “All German investments in Turkey are 100 percent under the guarantee of the Turkish government, the state and law.”
“The Turkey-Germany crisis is temporary. One must refrain from words that would cause lasting harm to the economies. Germany must reassess comments that are inappropriate,” said Zeybekçi in a bid to improve the strained relations.
The Turkish government has seized 966 companies and their 4,888 properties, the total value of which is TL 48.5 billion ($13,8 bln), over their alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement since controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
According to a report named “Fight against FETÖ,” [a derogatory term used by the government circles to refer to the Gülen movement] which has been presented to the National Security Council (MGK), real estate property worth of TL7.5 billion ($2,12 bln) and company property worth of TL 41 billion ($11,6 bln) have been transferred to Turkey’s state-run Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF) as part of an ongoing government-led crackdown on the Gülen movement. The Turkish government has been confiscating the private property of non-loyalist businesspeople without due process on unsubstantiated charges of terrorist links.
Moreover, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble on Friday compared Turkey with the former East Germany in the wake of the growing number of arbitrary arrests in the country, the German Bild daily has reported.
Schaeuble’s remarks came 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.
Warning Germans against the risks of traveling to Turkey, which he thought was acting like the former German Democratic Republic (GDR), Schaeuble said: “Turkey now makes arbitrary arrests and no longer sticks to minimum consular standards. That reminds me of how it was in the GDR.”
Schaeuble said when people used to travel to the former East Germany, they knew that “if something happens to you, no one can help you.”
As tension between Berlin and Ankara continues over the arrest of German human rights consultant and activist Peter Steudtner, Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan lambasted German Economy Minister Brigitte Zypries, saying Berlin is not powerful enough to defame or scare Turkey on Friday.
“I would like to remind my German friends and the whole world: You cannot afford to defame Turkey. You cannot scare us with these kinds of things, either,” said Erdoğan during a speech in İstanbul while expressing displeasure with news that Turkey had launched investigations into German companies in Turkey.
“I strongly condemn the remarks of the German economy minister that aim to scare and disquiet companies which invest in Turkey with baseless and indirect messages. This behavior is not suitable for politics or people in a political position,” said Erdoğan.
Reacting to news that Turkey launched investigations into German companies that had invested in Turkey, Erdoğan said: “I have called and asked my National Intelligence Organization and my interior minister whether they have launched investigations into German companies. The answer I received from my colleagues yesterday was as follows: No investigation has been launched into German companies. All the claims are lies.”
“We will continue with the investments of German companies in Turkey, as has been the case up until now.”
German Economy Minister Zypries said in a statement emailed to Politico: “We are experiencing a nadir in German-Turkish economic relations.” Zypries said she would “discuss with our European partners how to proceed. This applies to questions of economic aid for Turkey or the further development of the customs union [with the EU].”
The crisis between Turkey and Germany 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. In addition to Steudtner, German journalist Deniz Yücel and seven other Germans are currently in custody in Turkey.
Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15 that killed 249 people. 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. The Turkish 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 turkishminute.com) July 21, 2017