Schaeuble: Erdogan “jeopardising centuries-old” German-Turkish partnership

Schaeuble: Erdogan “jeopardising centuries-old” German-Turkish partnership
"We can't allow ourselves to be blackmailed," says Schaeuble, explaining Berlin's newly aggressive posture towards Ankara. / Kuebi = Armin Kübelbeck.
By bne IntelliNews July 24, 2017

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is “jeopardising the centuries-old partnership” between Turkey and Germany, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said in an interview published by Bild on July 24.

Schaeuble, who on July 21 undermined an attempt by Ankara to cool its row with Berlin over the arrest of human rights activists and other state of emergency measures by comparing aspects of the present Turkish state to former communist East Germany, told the newspaper: "[The jeopardising of the relationship] is dramatic, as there is really a lot that connects us. But we can't allow ourselves to be blackmailed".

Turkish-German relations, already tense over Erdogan's security crackdown and massive purges since the coup attempt against him just over a year ago, worsened with the arrest of six rights activists, including one German, two weeks ago.

Berlin took that as the signal for a reorientation of its policy towards Ankara. On July 20 German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel essentially unveiled the tougher approach, warning German tourists and other German nationals to exercise more caution in traveling to Turkey, declaring: "We need our policies towards Turkey to go in a new direction. We can't continue as we have done until now".

Next, in a move that will have caused Turkish ministers to ponder what economic damage could be caused by the harder line coming from Germany, the DIHK chambers of commerce in Germany raised the stakes. DIHK foreign trade chief Volker Treier said it was hard to imagine German enterprises investing in Turkey given the fraught bilateral relations, while also stating: "Uncertainty among German companies has been felt significantly since the failed putsch".

Possible evidence that Ankara may be growing nervous about a German strategy that could have serious economic consequences came on July 24 when the Turkish government formally withdrew its request that the German interior ministry assist in investigating a list of German companies with alleged ties to terrorism.

That followed Turkish Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci saying on July 21 that “the Turkey-Germany crisis is temporary. One must refrain from words that would cause lasting harm to the economies”. He added: "All German investments in Turkey are 100 percent under the guarantee of the Turkish government, the state and law."

Another bone of contention is Turkey's refusal to let German lawmakers visit soldiers stationed at two air bases. "It worries me that we have a Nato country that forbids visits by other Nato members," Volker Kauder, head of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative bloc in parliament, told broadcaster ARD on July 24, according to Reuters. He reportedly added: "This is an intolerable situation and we must say clearly to Turkey: this is not on."