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Erdoğan to Berlin: You can’t scare Turkey

President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan delivers a speech during a ceremony held for a medical investment at Çiragan Palace in Istanbul, Turkey on July 21, 2017. Berk Ozkan / Anadolu Agency

As tension between Berlin and Ankara continues over the arrest of German human rights consultant and activist Peter Steudtner, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan lambasted German Economy Minister Brigitte Zypries, saying Berlin is not powerful enough to defame or scare Turkey, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Friday.

“I would like to remind my German friends and the whole world: You cannot afford to defame Turkey. You cannot scare us with these kinds of things, either,” said Erdoğan during a speech in İstanbul while expressing displeasure with news that Turkey had launched investigations into German companies in Turkey.

“I strongly condemn the remarks of the German economy minister that aim to scare and disquiet companies which invest in Turkey with baseless and indirect messages. This behavior is not suitable for politics or people in a political position,” said Erdoğan.

Reacting to news that Turkey launched investigations into German companies that had invested in Turkey, Erdoğan said: “I have called and asked my National Intelligence Organization and my interior minister whether they have launched investigations into German companies. The answer I received from my colleagues yesterday was as follows: No investigation has been launched into German companies. All the claims are lies.”

“We will continue with the investments of German companies in Turkey, as has been the case up until now.”

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel on Thursday said his country is being forced to reorient its Turkey policy in the wake of the arrest of human rights activists and journalists in the country.

Six human rights activists, including Amnesty International’s (AI) Turkey Director İdil Eser and German human rights consultant Steudtner, who were detained on July 5 during a workshop at a hotel on İstanbul’s Büyükada, were put in pre-trial detention by an İstanbul court on Tuesday.

Gabriel warned German citizens against the risks of traveling to Turkey.

Economy Minister Zypries struck a similar note in a statement emailed to Politico: “We are experiencing a nadir in German-Turkish economic relations.”

Zypries said she would “discuss with our European partners how to proceed. This applies to questions of economic aid for Turkey or the further development of the customs union [with the EU].”

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble on Friday compared Turkey with the former East Germany in the wake of the growing number of arbitrary arrests in the country, the German Bild daily reported.

Warning Germans against the risks of traveling to Turkey, Schaeuble said: “Turkey now makes arbitrary arrests and no longer sticks to minimum consular standards. That reminds me of how it was in the GDR [German Democratic Republic].”

In addition to Steudtner, German journalist Deniz Yücel and seven other Germans are currently in custody in Turkey.

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