In sharp contrast to the angry reaction by Turkey’s leaders following Germany’s vote on a resolution declaring the 1915 killing of Armenians a genocide, Turkish markets stayed calm, playing down the potential fallouts from the tension between Ankara and Berlin.
Turkish stocks rose 0.45% on Monday, while the lira was rather stable, losing 0.09% of its value against the dollar to trade at 2.9098. The reason likely is that investors do not expect the genocide frenzy to significantly affect economic relations between Turkey and its main trade partner. Germany is Turkey's top export market, and the largest chunk of foreign tourists visiting Turkey are Germans.
Soon after Germany’s parliament passed the resolution on June 2, Turkey hit back by recalling its ambassador to Germany and summoning the German chargé d’affairs to the foreign ministry. Ever since, Turkish President Tayyip Recep Erdogan has threatened more steps will follow hinting a key migrant deal between Ankara and Brussels may fall victim.
In the meantime, German lawmakers of Turkish origin who voted backed the resolution face death threats, local and German media reported on June 6. The co-chair of the Greens in Germany, Cem Ozdemir, who played an active role in the approval of the bill, has been placed under police protection, according to the Hurriyet Daily News. Another Green MP of Turkish origin, Ozcan Mutlu told ARD that he was seriously worried, thelocal.de website reported. “I've never experienced this amount of abuse. Some manic, crazy person might hear that and think ‘the leader has given his orders”, Mutlu said.
Erdogan lashed out at Ozdemir and the other MPs saying the “Turkishness” of those MPs must be questioned and their blood should be tested to see if they are really Turkish. “Either we find solutions to our problems in a fair way or will leave you to your own worries,” Erdogan said in a clear reference to Europe’s migrant crisis. Over the past weeks, even before the German vote, Erdogan had repeatedly threatened to abandon the key migrant deal with the EU if Brussels fails to deliver on its promise of visa-free travel for Turkish citizens, part of the refugee agreement.
The big question is whether Erdogan could go as far as cutting all ties with Europe which is Turkey’s long-time ally and its largest export market. Analysts at local brokerage house DenizInvest do not think he would take such drastic actions given Germany’s and Europe’s importance for Turkey and their mutual dependence.
Erdogan must be well aware that the cost of drifting further away from Europe would be too high. Turkey needs foreign tourists to generate revenue to finance its large current account deficit. Germans, who make up the largest group of foreign tourists visiting Turkey, will keep away from the country if they fell unsafe there.
Germany is the biggest foreign investor in Turkey, with investments totalling over €12bn since 1980, according to information on the website of Germany’s Federal Foreign Office. The number of German companies and Turkish companies with German capital interest in Turkey is more than 6,500. The sectors in which they are active range from industrial manufacturing and the marketing of all types of products to services of all kinds to retail and wholesale business management. In Germany, some 96,000 entrepreneurs of Turkish origin employ a workforce of some 500,000 and account for an annual turnover of around €50bn.
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