Germany won’t withdraw travel warning while Turkey’s emergency rule still in force

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German Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel (R) and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu give a joint press conference during a meeting on March 6, 2018 in Berlin. / AFP PHOTO / Tobias SCHWARZ

Germany is not prepared to reconsider its travel warning as long as Turkey continues to impose a state of emergency, acting German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said following a meeting with his Turkish counterpart, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, on Tuesday, Deutsche Welle reported.

The meeting in Berlin, part of Çavuşoğlu’s third trip to Germany since the beginning of 2018, took place amid efforts by both countries to repair their damaged diplomatic relationship.

Çavuşoğlu urged his German counterpart to withdraw the travel warning for Turkey that was issued last July, arguing that it “does not reflect the good, friendly relations between the two countries.”

Gabriel, however, cited the ongoing state of emergency in Turkey as well as the arbitrary detention of German-Turkish nationals as justification for the warning.

Germany’s top diplomat said he looked forward to Turkey lifting the state of emergency and the return to normal relations between the two states. Germans deserve to visit Turkey, “one of the most beautiful countries in the world,” he said.

Gabriel later tweeted that bilateral relations between the two countries had improved in recent months. “It is now important to build on these steps,” he added.

Opposition politician and former German Green Party leader Cem Özdemir welcomed the diplomatic dialogue with Turkey but warned the government against a return to business-as-usual. “There can be no normalization of the German-Turkish relationship without the release of imprisoned journalists and opposition figures,” he said. Four German citizens are being held in Turkish custody.

Berlin and Ankara have tried to improve their relationship following multiple diplomatic spats in the past few years. Turkey removed one major headache in mid-February when it released German journalist Deniz Yücel. The German government had harshly criticized Turkey for the dual national’s yearlong captivity.

In response to the detention of journalists and rights activists in Turkey, the German Foreign Ministry issued a statement last July warning German citizens that they risked detention if they traveled to the country.

The number of Germans visiting Turkey has plummeted in recent years. In the first 10 months of 2015, 5.1 million Germans visited Turkey. During the same time period in 2017, only 3.3 million Germans visited.

Ankara asked Berlin on Monday to detain and extradite Syrian Kurdish leader Salih Muslim. Turkey has accused Muslim, who was seen at a pro-Kurdish demonstration in Berlin on Saturday, of being a terrorist.

Gabriel told Çavuşoğlu on Tuesday that Germany would treat Turkey’s extradition request for Muslim “in accordance with the rule of law.”

Gabriel told reporters during a joint press conference with Çavuşoğlu: “We have in fact received a verbal note from the Turkish Foreign Ministry, and we will send this request, as always, to the [German] justice ministry, and they will examine it on constitutional grounds.”

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