Turkish PM calls for cool heads as Germany tightens stance

Turkish PM Binali Yildirim delivers a speech in Cyprus July 20, 2017.

:: Turkey’s prime minister sought Friday to downplay worries of growing tensions between Turkey and Germany following the jailing of six human rights activists, including one German.

Turkey continues to regard Germany as a “strategic partner in Europe,” Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said a day after Berlin toughened its stance against Ankara following the jailing of a Peter Steudtner and five other activists, who were accused of links to terror groups.

“From time to time, there may be tensions in the relations due to considerations caused by domestic politics,” Yildirim said. “My call from here is to act with cool-headedness. There is no benefit to Germany or to Turkey if relations are damaged.”

On Thursday, the German government told citizens traveling to Turkey to exercise caution and threatened to withhold backing for investments.

German-Turkish relations have been souring for over a year, particularly since last July’s coup attempt in Turkey. Twenty-two German citizens have been taken into custody in the ensuing crackdown. Nine are currently in jail, including Steudtner and journalists Deniz Yucel and Mesale Tolu.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told Friday’s edition of Bild daily that Turkey is now arresting people arbitrarily and failing to comply with minimum consular standards.

“It reminds me of how things used to be in East Germany,” Schaeuble was quoted as saying. “It was clear to anyone who traveled there: if something happens to you, no one can help you.”

Schaeuble added that if Turkey doesn’t stop playing “games,” Germany will have to tell people: “You travel to Turkey at your own risk.”

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