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Berlin backs Turkey’s fight against terrorism as long as it’s ‘proportionate,’ German minister says

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German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser has said Berlin stands with Turkey in the fight against terrorism on condition that the country’s responses to attacks are “proportionate” and mindful of civilian populations, local media reported on Tuesday.

Faeser on Tuesday spoke during a joint news conference with her Turkish counterpart, Süleyman Soylu, and said she had extensive talks with Turkish officials on a wide range of topics including domestic security, the fight against terrorism and the prevention of organized crime.

The minister reiterated that Berlin stood with Turkey in the fight against terrorism but said Turkey’s response to attacks must be “proportionate” and mindful of civilian populations.

“I’m calling for the prevention of an escalation of violence,” Faeser said, adding that the fight against terrorism must be carried out “in accordance with the law of the states” and “by protecting the civilian population.”

When asked if Adil Öksüz, the prime civilian suspect in a coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016, and Zekeriya Öz, a former prosecutor who took part in the December 17-25 bribery and corruption investigations that shook the country back in 2013, would be extradited to Turkey, the minister said she couldn’t provide information on specific cases but guaranteed that Germany would act according to the rule of law in such matters.

The probe that Öz was in charge of implicated, among others, the family members of four cabinet ministers as well as the children of then-prime minister and current president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Despite the scandal resulting in the resignation of the cabinet members, the investigation was dropped after prosecutors and police chiefs were removed from the case. Erdoğan locked up thousands including many prosecutors, judges and police officers involved in the investigation as well as journalists who reported on them.

Turkish Interior Minister Soylu defended Turkey’s actions in fighting terrorism during the news conference, saying, “They want to establish a terrorist state around us. We can’t allow that. It is our duty to protect our borders and our nation.”

“NATO was up in arms because a couple of bombs fell on Poland,” Soylu said, complaining about what many Turks consider Western insensitivities toward attacks perpetrated against Turkey by Kurdish militants.

He was referring to a missile strike in Polish farmland earlier this month that killed two people.

The remarks come as Erdoğan said Tuesday that Turkey would “soon” launch a ground operation in Syria against Kurdish militants following airstrikes over the weekend.

The country on Sunday launched Operation Claw-Sword, hitting Kurdish militant targets in northern Iraq and Syria after a deadly attack in Istanbul.

The government has blamed the Nov. 13 bombing on the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), listed as a terrorist group by Turkey and much of the international community.

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