By: Sara Adams
Impunity Watch News Reporter, Europe
BERLIN, Germany – German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel advised citizens against traveling to Turkey, in a time of rising tension between the two countries.
The tension comes from Turkey’s actions since the failed coup against the government in 2016. In the past year, the Turkish government has arrested at least 50,000 people, including journalists and opposition members. Of those, 22 have been German citizens.
German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yucel was among those arrested in the past year. He was detained on terror charges in February. Six of the human rights activists arrested in June were jailed in Turkey on July 18 while they await trial.
The jailing of the activists is what some are saying triggered Berlin to issue a warning against travel to Turkey.
Relations between Turkey and Germany have become a key topic as Germany approaches a general election in September. Foreign Minister Gabriel is part of the Social Democrats, a rival to Chancellor Merkel’s Christian Democrats.
Despite the rivalry, Chancellor Merkel has backed the Foreign Minister’s warning against traveling to Turkey.
Foreign Minister Gabriel is reviewing the relations between the two countries. While he says that Germany “wants Turkey to become part of the west,” he also urged that “it takes two to tango.”
Germany is considering review of an export credits system that benefits Turkey. They are also considering how to handle Turkey’s bid to join the European Union.
Meanwhile, Turkey has stated that it will “reciprocate” what it calls “blackmail and threats” by Berlin. The Turkish Foreign Ministry blames the tensions on Germany’s “double-standard attitude” toward Turkey.
Counsel of Europe’s Secretary General Throbjorn Jagland joins the calls for freeing the prisoners in Turkey.
“Human rights defenders should be able to fulfill their activities freely without being subject to arbitrary interferences by the authorities,” he said in a statement on June 20.
Continuing, the Secretary General stated that the lack of evidence against those jailed can lead to “fear, self-censorship and a chilling effect on Turkish civil society.”
Even so, the government in Ankara continues to hold steadfast to their own judicial processes.
A statement released by the Turkish Foreign Ministry insisted that “the independent Turkish judiciary must be trusted.”
The Ministry strongly condemned any suggestion that German citizens were not safe when traveling to Turkey.
“There is no such thing,” the Turkish Foreign Minister said. “as far as the judiciary could establish [those arrested were] not ordinary visitors, [but] people who engaged in illegal or suspicious activities.”
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