Germany’s Sigmar Gabriel meets Turkey’s Mevlut Cavusoglu to discuss ‘difficult issues’
The German and Turkish foreign ministers met in Antalya for “informal” talks which are likely to spur EU debate about diplomacy with Ankara. The meeting follows Turkey’s release of a German human rights activist.
Germany’s foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel met with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu on Saturday to discuss strained relations between the two NATO countries.
“Bilateral issues, including the difficult issues and mutual expectations” were discussed, Cavusoglu wrote on Twitter, echoing a similar message from the German foreign ministry.
Their encounter followed the release last week of German Amnesty International activist Peter Steudtner by a Turkish court. At least nine German nationals are still behind bars in Turkey, including journalists Deniz Yücel and Mesale Tolu.
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Prior to Germany’s September election, some of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives and even Social Democrat lead candidate Martin Schulz had floated the idea to end to prolonged Turkish EU accession talks in reaction to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s crackdown that followed last year’s failed coup attempt.
Gabriel last April had told German broadcaster Deutschlandfunk that Berlin was “strictly against breaking off talks,” arguing that persecuted persons in Turkey had to be helped and that Ankara was a “large neighbor” and NATO alliance partner who would otherwise drift toward Russia.
Luxembourg’s foreign minister, Jean Asselborn, who was echoed by other EU ministers, said dialog had to continue.
Last week, former opposition Greens German parliamentarian Özcan Mutlu said that in order to secure Steudtner’s release, Merkel’s outgoing cabinet had, for the first time, “pulled off its silk gloves” and talked “straight” with Ankara.
“This signal has arrived,” said Mutlu, adding that mistakes had, however, been made on both sides.
“Turkey is in an economic crisis. She cannot afford to clash with its important business partner Germany or the EU.”
“Frau Merkel was in Turkey five times over the past two years. She never made topics out of democratic deficits, the human rights situation and press freedoms.”
“As a result, that was interpreted as diplomatic weakness in Ankara, which thought it could do what it wanted,” Mutlu added.
ipj/jlw (dpa, AFP)