Report: Turkish FM reiterates need for ‘fresh start’ with Germany

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Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu (Abdulhamid Hosbas / Anadolu Agency)

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has called for a “fresh start” with Germany after relations between the NATO allies deteriorated in the wake of a mass crackdown on civil society in 2016, Deutsche Welle reported.

The countries should come together “as equal partners” and show more empathy towards each other instead of engaging in “megaphone diplomacy,” Çavuşoğlu said in an op-ed written for German publishing group Funke Mediengruppe, in apparent reference to critical statements made by German officials.

The Turkish foreign minister said Germany did not fully understand the trauma sustained by his country during a failed coup in July 2016. Turkey expects Germany to “better understand the situation that the Anatolian country is currently facing,” he said in the op-ed.

Since the coup attempt that left 249 people dead, Turkey has detained at least 50,000 people and suspended 150,000 more from civil service jobs for alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement, accused by the government of masterminding the failed coup, a claim strongly denied by the movement.

Turkish authorities have also targeted German citizens, including journalists Deniz Yücel and Mesale Tolu.

Çavuşoğlu’s op-ed reflected statements he made earlier this week during which he brought up the case of Yücel, a reporter for the Berlin-based Die Welt newspaper.

In an interview with Germany’s DPA news agency, the foreign minister said that while Yücel had yet to be formally indicted, the government has encouraged the judiciary to “speed up the process.”

In a statement full or irony in Turkish and German given to DW and DPA by his lawyer, Yücel said he did not want Çavuşoğlu to feel “unhappy” over the indictment, referring to the minister’s comments earlier in the week.

“That really worried me. After all, I do not want him to be unhappy because of me. But I can comfort him: If I’ve been accustomed to being held hostage without charge for almost a year, then he can manage as well,” Yücel said.

Yücel also wrote that he was pleased to hear the foreign minister call his case “very complex,” adding that he was happy that at least the government was able to study the case since the secrecy surrounding it has prevented him and his lawyer from evaluating the arguments to be made against him.

Earlier this week, the Turkish government submitted comments to Turkey’s Constitutional Court on Yücel’s pretrial detention. The country’s top court said Yücel has two weeks to offer his response before it determines how to move forward, which could include letting the journalist go free.

He has been held in pretrial detention for 10 months.

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