Ankara, Ber­lin in pur­suit of re­build­ing lost trust

The rec­on­cil­i­a­tion be­tween Ankara and Ber­lin ac­cel­er­ated with the meet­ing of the coun­tries’ for­eign min­is­ters last week. The Ger­man For­eign Min­istry spoke to Daily Sabah and con­firmed the ef­forts of re­cov­er­ing ‘lost trust’ and aim to bring mo­men­tum to the

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Politics - YUNUS PAKSOY – ANKARA

THE CON­CIL­IA­TORY meet­ing came af­ter ju­di­cial de­ci­sions to re­lease from Turkish cus­tody Ger­man na­tional Peter Steudt­ner and an­other Ger­man cit­i­zen, whose name was not dis­closed by Ber­lin or Ankara. Fur­ther­more, on the same day, Ger­man po­lice in­ter­vened in a PKK demon­stra­tion in Düs­sel­dorf and de­tained sev­eral peo­ple.

Fol­low­ing months of squab­bles and heated ex­changes, Ankara and Ber­lin may have slightly changed their at­ti­tudes, if not en­tirely. In­deed, the will­ing­ness for change, the pos­si­bil­ity of cre­at­ing a new roadmap and turn­ing a fresh page in ties seems ev­i­dent on both sides.

The Ger­man For­eign Min­istry told Daily Sabah that there have been “some at­tempts in re­cent weeks to nor­mal­ize bi­lat­eral relations.” The high-level of­fi­cial, who asked to re­main anony­mous, said the two for­eign min­is­ters talked about “how the lost trust can be re­built.”

It may not be plain and sim­ple. The path lead­ing up to the lost trust was bumpy, and the two coun­tries clashed diplo­mat­i­cally more than once. The al­leged lack of Ger­man sol­i­dar­ity with Turkey in the wake of the July 15, 2016 coup at­tempt did not help the cause, ei­ther.

The dan­ger­ously strained ties prior to the April 16 con­sti­tu­tional ref­er­en­dum in Turkey led to se­ri­ous reper­cus­sions. In July, the very same Gabriel that met Çavuşoğlu last week for a rec­on­cil­ia­tory ef­fort, an­nounced a se­ries of eco­nomic sanc­tions against Turkey. The relations then hit rock bot­tom.

How­ever, the mood in Ankara sug­gested that relations would nor­mal­ize fol­low­ing the Sept. 24 Ger­man elec­tions. The pos­i­tive de­vel­op­ments over the course of the past cou­ple of weeks may be a turn­ing point.

“It will not be easy, and it will take time,” the se­nior Ger­man For­eign Min­istry of­fi­cial said. That be­ing said, the sit­u­a­tion is not as grim as it was months ago. “Con­ver­sa­tions are a good start,” added the of­fi­cial.

Un­sur­pris­ingly, a great num­ber of is­sues have trou­bled bi­lat­eral relations. While Ankara has levied harsh crit­i­cism on Ber­lin for har­bor­ing ter­ror­ists, pro­vid­ing them safe haven and show­ing un­will­ing­ness for ex­tra­di­tions, Ber­lin com­plains about al­leged hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions, press free­dom and im­pris­oned Ger­man na­tion­als.

Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­doğan on Thurs­day voiced the same crit­i­cism at a gath­er­ing in Ankara. “Look, they can­not take shel­ter in Turkey any­more. They are now wan­der­ing around the streets of Ber­lin,” he said, re­it­er­at­ing his claim that Ger­many has be­come a safe haven for ter­ror­ists flee­ing Turkey.

In ad­di­tion to the PKK mat­ter with Ber­lin, Ankara places great em­pha­sis on Gülenist Ter­ror Group (FETÖ) fugi­tives. FETÖ's Ger­man imam, Er­can Karakoyun, said in an in­ter­view with the Ger­man news­pa­per Die Zeit in July: "The move­ment [FETÖ] can­not sur­vive in Turkey. Ger­many is to be­come the new cen­ter."

Around 600 Gülenist pub­lic ser­vants and high-rank­ing mil­i­tary of­fi­cers are es­ti­mated to have sought asy­lum in Ger­many since the coup at­tempt. The num­ber may climb even higher in the fu­ture.

“Sadly, FETÖ car­ries out anti-Turkey ac­tiv­i­ties us­ing Europe and Ger­many. We want them to be ex­tra­dited to Turkey within the frame­work of le­gal obli­ga­tions, in­clud­ing its leader [Fe­tul­lah] Gülen. These are our ex­pec­ta­tions of Europe and the U.S.,” pres­i­den­tial spokesman İbrahim Kalın said in July.

On the other hand, Ber­lin is vexed about Turkey im­pris­on­ing Ger­man na­tion­als. Even though the re­lease of Steudt­ner and the other Ger­man cit­i­zen al­le­vi­ated some bur­den on ties, the cases of Ger­man jour­nal­ist Deniz Yü­cel and the Ger­man cit­i­zen trans­la­tor for the Etkin Haber Ajansı news agency, Meşale Tolu, re­main con­tro­ver­sial for the Ger­man gov­ern­ment. "It is not ac­cept­able that Ger­mans in Turkish cus­tody have to serve time as a bar­gain­ing chip of the Turkish gov­ern­ment for po­lit­i­cal rea­sons,” Gabriel said in Au­gust.

How­ever, as a sign of hope, the Ger­man For­eign Min­istry of­fi­cial said: “There is a de­sire to stay in close con­tact from both sides and, step-by-step, to re­build trust.” Çavuşoğlu and Gabriel’s in­for­mal meet­ing may have sparked the be­gin­ning of a rec­on­cil­i­a­tion process be­tween the two coun­tries. The ques­tion of whether this will be sus­tain­able de­pends on fu­ture de­vel­op­ments. Yet, the Ger­man of­fi­cial said even though the is­sues are ex­tremely sen­si­tive, “we must main­tain an open di­a­logue on these very dif­fi­cult is­sues. We will see how it goes on.”

For­eign Min­is­ter Çavu oğlu (R) and Ger­man For­eign Min­is­ter Gabriel in An­talya, on Nov. 4.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Turkey

© PressReader. All rights reserved.