Schaeuble accuses Erdoğan of gambling with centuries-old ties to Germany

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German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is putting at risk his country’s centuries-old ties with Germany.

Bilateral relations deteriorated following the arrest by Turkey of six rights activists, including one German, two weeks ago as part of a wider crackdown since a failed coup against Erdoğan last year.

“He is jeopardizing the centuries-old partnership,” Schaeuble said of Erdoğan.”It is dramatic, as there is really a lot that connects us. But we can’t allow ourselves to be blackmailed,” the minister said in an interview with the Bild daily published on Monday.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff said on Sunday that Turkey’s behavior was “unacceptable” and that Germany had a duty to protect its citizens and companies, but also wanted to maintain strong bilateral ties.

Germany has warned its nationals traveling to Turkey that they do so at their own risk, and Schaeuble was quoted on Friday as comparing Turkey with the former communist East German state, the German Democratic Republic.

In March, German authorities barred Turkish ministers from speaking at mass rallies of expatriates backing the president’s referendum campaign. He responded by accusing Berlin of “fascist actions.”

The activist arrests were part of a broader crackdown since last year’s failed coup. More than 150,000 people have been sacked or suspended from jobs in Turkey’s civil service, military and private sector and more than 50,000 have been jailed on coup charges.

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