Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Er­do­gan’s visit to Ger­many aims to re­set icy re­la­tions

Global Times - Weekend - - VIEW POINT - The ar­ti­cle is from the Xin­hua News Agency. opin­ion@ glob­al­times.com.cn

Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan paid his first state visit to Ger­many in four years on Thurs­day in a bid to re­store deeply eroded re­la­tions and boost eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion as ten­sions in Ankara-Ber­lin ties ap­pear to have been eased.

“The pri­or­ity agenda on my visit to Ger­many will be com­pletely leav­ing be­hind the pe­riod ex­pe­ri­enced in re­cent years in our po­lit­i­cal re­la­tions,” Er­do­gan said.

Re­la­tions be­tween Ger­many and Turkey hit rock bot­tom over the past two years, but in re­cent months both sides have taken steps to­wards im­prov­ing ties.

There have been signs of a thaw in ties dur­ing past months since Ger­man For­eign Min­is­ter Heiko Maas vis­ited Turkey in early Septem­ber and Turkey re­leased one Ger­man-Turk­ish jour­nal­ist and al­lowed an­other Ger­man ci­ti­zen to leave the coun­try.

A failed coup at­tempt in 2016 caused mu­tual mis­trust and led to con­flicts be­tween Turkey and many of its Western al­lies in­clud­ing Ger­many.

Nearly 4,000 sup­port­ers of the Gulen move­ment, led by US-based Is­lamic cleric Fethul­lah Gulen who is ac­cused by the Turk­ish gov­ern­ment of mas­ter­mind­ing the coup, have fled to Ger­many from Turkey, lo­cal me­dia re­ports.

Gulen sup­port­ers, in­clud­ing for­mer sol­diers and diplo­mats, have sought asy­lum in Ger­many. They are key sus­pects in the coup at­tempt and have not been ex­tra­dited de­spite calls from Ankara. In 2017, Turk­ish au­thor­i­ties ar­rested Ger­man cit­i­zens, fur­ther strain­ing the re­la­tions, par­tic­u­larly Turk­ish-Ger­man jour­nal­ist Deniz Yu­cel.

He was ac­cused of be­ing a Ger­man “spy” and car­ry­ing out pro­pa­ganda for the out­lawed Kur­dis­tan Work­ers’ Party (PKK). The Ger­man gov­ern­ment crit­i­cized his de­tain­ment as “po­lit­i­cal hostage-tak­ing.”

The jour­nal­ist was re­leased af­ter 10 months in prison dur­ing a thaw in re­la­tions be­tween the two coun­tries.

Ger­man mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties banned Turk­ish politi­cians from cam­paign­ing in Ger­many to reach Turk­ish ex­pats about a 2017 Turk­ish ref­er­en­dum.

Ten­sion fur­ther es­ca­lated af­ter the Turk­ish gov­ern­ment’s re­fusal to let Ger­man par­lia­men­tar­i­ans visit Ger­man troops at the In­cir­lik air base in south­ern Turkey, which led to re­de­ploy­ment of Ger­man troops to Jor­dan.

The Turk­ish pres­i­dent is seek­ing to re­pair ties be­tween Turkey and Euro­pean coun­tries at a time when his na­tion’s econ­omy is in slow­down with sig­nif­i­cant Turk­ish lira de­pre­ci­a­tion and mount­ing con­cerns about a build-up of debts.

The Turk­ish gov­ern­ment is seek­ing new for­eign in­vestors to boost its econ­omy. Er­do­gan will also meet CEOs of Ger­man com­pa­nies dur­ing his visit to Ber­lin on Fri­day.

Turk­ish rul­ing Jus­tice and De­vel­op­ment Party (AKP) law­maker Mustafa Yen­eroglu, who grew up in Ger­many with Turk­ish-Ger­man ci­ti­zen­ship, said that a del­e­ga­tion of Ger­man busi­ness-peo­ple will visit Turkey in Oc­to­ber.

The Turk­ish pres­i­dent’s Septem­ber 27-29 visit to Ger­many aims to “gain mo­men­tum for Turk­ish-Ger­man ties again,” Yen­eroglu said. He said he hoped the visit would end ten­sions and open a new chap­ter in bi­lat­eral re­la­tions.

Ger­many is Turkey’s main eco­nomic and trade part­ner and home to more than 3 mil­lion peo­ple with Turk­ish roots. The bi­lat­eral trade vol­ume reached $43.6 bil­lion in 2017. Nearly 7,500 Ger­man com­pa­nies are ac­tive in Turkey.

Pres­i­dent Er­do­gan will re­mind his Ger­man coun­ter­part about tak­ing mea­sures against ter­ror groups in­clud­ing Gu­lenists and the PKK, said Ke­mal Inat, deputy co­or­di­na­tor of the Foun­da­tion for Po­lit­i­cal, Eco­nomic and So­cial Re­search (SETA), a think tank based in Ankara. Ber­lin will want to nor­mal­ize re­la­tions with Turkey as it is wor­ried about a fur­ther in­flux of Syr­ian refugees into Europe, Inat said.

Turkey has been host­ing nearly 3.5 mil­lion refugees who fled war-torn Syria.

“An­other is­sue that com­pels the two coun­tries to work more closely is the US trade wars, which took a toll on global sta- bil­ity,” said Yahya Bostan, a colum­nist for the Daily Sabah.

The po­ten­tial im­pact of Wash­ing­ton’s sanc­tions on Iran might also dis­turb both economies, he noted.

On Au­gust 26, Peter Alt­maier, a Ger­man politi­cian serv­ing as Fed­eral Min­is­ter for Eco­nomic Af­fairs and En­ergy, voiced sup­port for Turkey af­ter the US slammed sanc­tions and raised tar­iffs on Ankara.

On Wed­nes­day, one day ahead of his of­fi­cial visit, the Turk­ish leader called on Ger­many to press the re­set but­ton on their tricky re­la­tions.

“It is our re­spon­si­bil­ity to ra­tio­nally move our re­la­tions for­ward on the ba­sis of our shared in­ter­ests, quite apart from ir­ra­tional fears,” Er­do­gan wrote in an op-ed col­umn pub­lished in the Frank­furter All­ge­meine Zeitung newspaper.

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