BERLIN: German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel warned against a further escalation of tensions between Germany and Turkey, in an article published in the Sunday edition of the Bild newspaper. “We must not allow the foundation of friendship between our countries to be broken,” wrote Gabriel, who is the outgoing leader of Germany’s centre-left Social Democrats (SPD). Tensions between Berlin and Ankara are strained over visits to Germany by Turkish officials to campaign for a “yes” vote in a referendum that would give sweeping powers to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and the imprisonment of German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yucel.
Gabriel, who is to meet with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Germany on Wednesday, wrote that relations with Turkey are facing a severe test. Gabriel did not speak out against campaign appearances in Germany by Turkish politicians in general, but set out clear conditions. “If someone wants to speak in our country, they don’t need to tell us what we want to hear, but they have to respect our rules, the rules of law just as the rules of decency.” Several appearances by Turkish politicians in Germany have been banned. On the imprisonment in Turkey of journalist Denis Yucel, pending trial on charges including membership of a terrorist organisation,Gabriel writes: “Throwing Deniz Yucel in prison is wrong and unreasonable. We are campaigning vigorously for his release.” — DPA