German FM to visit Turkey for more engagement with civil society

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German Foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. / AFP PHOTO / dpa / Maurizio Gambarini / Germany OUT

Announcing a visit to Turkey next Tuesday, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier underlined the importance of engagement with civil society in Turkey amid growing tension between the two countries and his counterpart’s refusal to accept his calls, during a speech in the German parliament on Thursday.

According to Deutsche Welle, Steinmeier said nothing positive would come from polarization and endless confrontation in Turkey as he stressed the importance of engagement with civil society.

“We must ask if the Turkish government’s approach is compatible with the minimum standards of the rule of law,” Steinmeier said in the midst of a growing crackdown on the few remaining independent media outlets and the arrest of Kurdish deputies.

The top German diplomat stated that “when the existence of civil society is threatened, then democracy is also threatened,” based on their own experience in Germany.

Following an open invitation from the German state minister for Europe for persecuted Turks to apply for asylum in Germany, the foreign minister signaled support to “help persecuted scientists, cultural workers, journalists who can no longer work in Turkey to come to Germany to work.”

In addition, according to Steinmeier, Germany will also help online news media publish “independent and diverse” reports for a Turkish audience. A prominent Turkish journalist in exile, Can Dündar, who took refuge in Germany, had earlier said that he would launch a media outlet from abroad. Steinmeier’s remarks added to speculation that Dündar’s prospective media outlet would be funded by the German state.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu had admitted that he twice refused to take a call from German Foreign Minister Steinmeier on Nov. 8.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Çavuşoğlu said: “They think Germany is a superior country and expect us to be ready to take a call whenever they are ready. We are not loafing around here; we also have things to do.”

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