Tensions between Germany and Turkey are holding up planned defence projects at Rheinmetall, the German company’s chief executive Armin Papperger told news agency DPA in an interview, Reuters reported on October 30.
Several projects, including the production of ammunition for fighter jets in Turkey and upgrades to Turkey’s Leopard tanks, were still awaiting decisions from Berlin and Ankara, according to Papperger.
“If relations with Turkey don’t improve it will be difficult to obtain clearance from Germany,” he reportedly said.
Strained relations between the two countries have also dimmed Rheinmetall’s prospects for playing a role in Turkey’s Altay tank project, worth an estimated €7bn, DPA said, according to Reuters.
The German company established a joint venture with Turkey’s BMC which is a candidate to produce the first batch of around 200 of a planned 1,000 Altay combat tanks.
Papperger said that Rheinmetall had no plans to build its own tank factory in Turkey.
Relations between Ankara and Berlin have been strained by a range of issues.
Turkey accuses Germany of failing to support the Ankara government in the wake of last year’s attempted putsch and of harbouring members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), suspected coup plotters and figures of the leftist DHKP-C.
Germany is unhappy at what it sees as a serious decline in adherence to human rights and democratic standards, including a serious decline in press freedom, that has occurred in Turkey, a country that has been ruled under a state of emergency since the July 2016 failed coup. This has been aggravated by the questionable arresting and detaining of several German nationals in Turkey.
Berlin has announced that it has put most arms exports to Turkey on hold.
“We have put on hold all big requests that Turkey has sent to us, and these are really not a few,” German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said on September 11.
Gabriel said that there were only a few exemptions such as in instances where the government’s decision is tied to international agreements or if the requested exports concerned vehicles, not weapons.
Chancellor Angela Merkel has rejected a total ban on arms exports to Turkey.
Germany will decide on arms sales requests from Turkey on a case-by-case basis, Merkel told broadcaster NDR on September 12.