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Turkish FM says Ankara seeks better ties with Berlin in 2018

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Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Monday that the Turkish government is looking to improve ties with Germany in 2018 after strained relations in 2017 and called on Berlin to stop attacking Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Speaking to the German dpa news agency in an interview on Monday, Çavuşoğlu said: “The first three quarters of 2017 were not very good, but we have made some progress since then. We now have good dialogue, particularly with [German] Foreign Minister [Sigmar] Gabriel. I think both sides are ready to normalize relations. So I am expecting a much better year in 2018.”

Underlining that Ankara doesn’t see any crisis in its relations with Berlin, Çavuşoğlu added: “But Germany has a problem with Turkey, and Germany does not miss an opportunity to attack Turkey. And there is a very dangerous Turkey-bashing trend, Erdogan-bashing trend in Germany, which is not very helpful.”

Turkey’s relations with Germany were severely strained after Die Welt correspondent Deniz Yücel was arrested in February 2017 over terror charges and further worsened after German authorities banned Turkish ministers from delivering public speeches in Germany before an April 16 referendum last year that approved legislation to shift Turkey in to an executive presidential system and expanded President Erdoğan’s powers.

On Yücel’s case, the Turkish foreign minister denied claims that Turkish-German figures such as Yücel were being held as “political hostages,” saying the Turkish government can only call on the judiciary to speed up the legal process.

Although over 10 months have passed since Yücel was arrested, there is still no indictment against him.

Çavuşoğlu also accused Berlin of being a safe haven for members of faith-based Gülen movement, which the Turkish government accuses of being behind a failed coup in July 2016, and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Çavuşoğlu said he is going to meet with his German counterpart, Gabriel, in January in his hometown of Goslar.

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