By: Zack Duvall
In some of the harshest criticism of Turkish leaders yet, Germany’s Foreign Minister, Sigmar Gabriel, told German citizens to exercise caution if they plan to travel to Turkey, and threatened that Germany would seek to implement economic measures impeding any German financial investment in the country. Officials in Berlin also said that they were putting several arms deals currently in progress with Turkey on hold as well.
The tough talk from the German Foreign Ministry comes just days after the recent unrest in Turkey that government critics have called human rights violations, and resulted in the arrest of several protesters in Turkey on terrorism charges, including a German citizen.
“We need our policies towards Turkey to go in a new direction…We can’t continue as we have done.” Sigmar said at a press conference after canceling his summer holiday to address the arrest of the German citizen, Peter Steudtner. Sigmar cited several ways that Germany could put pressure on Turkey including strict economic sanctions, potential investment caps, and the full cancellation of any future weapons and defense deals.
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry released an informal paragraph length statement Thursday evening calling the comments by German officials “one-sided” and vowed to issue the “necessary response” to the criticism from German leaders.
The recent rise in tensions between the two NATO members comes after what Turkish officials have called “sweeping reforms” of the Turkish Parliament structure and leadership, after a failed military coup that some in Turkey believe Germany helped to fiance and support.
Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has used last year’s fail coup as justification for the reforms, that critics say, is simply the imprisonment of various military and government figures, largely believed by experts to be political rivals of Erdogan.
Germany has called the reforms nothing short of a “purge” of Turkey’s government from anyone who opposes the new leadership in Turkey under President Erdogan.
Although no formal response was issued from Turkey’s Foreign Ministry, the Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu. took to Twitter to slam German officials, and accused Berlin of allowing Germany to become a safe haven for members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), whose organization has been fighting an insurgency in Turkey since 1984.
“As a country who provides shelter to PKK and FETO terrorists in its own territory, statements by Germany are just double standards and unacceptable.” Cavusoglu said in a tweet late Thursday evening.
No official statement from Turkey’s president or Turkey’s Parliament was immediately available Thursday.