Turkish gov’t closes German Embassy school in İzmir province

The Turkish government has closed a German Embassy school in İzmir province over an allegation that it did not have the required license, according to reports in the German media.

The head teacher told the German press agency DPA that Turkish officials said the school lacked a license.

Dirk Philippi, the head teacher of the German school in İzmir, told German press agency DPA that a group of local as well as Education Ministry officials entered the school on Saturday, less than a day after students left for their summer holiday, to give him “written and oral” notice that the school would be closed. There are about 180 children between the ages of 2 and 20 enrolled at the school and its kindergarten.

According to its website, the school operates as “a branch of the German Embassy’s private school in Ankara.” Philippi, however, said it was “structurally assigned to the Consulate General in İzmir.”

A statement released by the German Embassy in Ankara said, “We call on the Turkish government to urgently explain the reasons for the closure of the school.” It stressed that the schools were an “essential” element of cultural and educational relations between two countries. Berlin has also asked the Turkish government to further explain its decision to close the school.

“I am convinced that this is a temporary closure,” Philippi said, adding that the incident may be due to something as simple as a missing document.

Berlin and Ankara have had tense relations in recent years. Frayed ties were seen led last year to German officials blocking Turkish politicians from speaking in Germany ahead of a Turkish constitutional referendum. Germany had also annoyed Turkey’s Islamist government by criticising its human rights record during a crackdown following a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Many European Union states have condemned the arrest of tens of thousands of people including journalists over alleged links to coup-plotters and Kurdish militants.

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