Turkey-Germany war of words strains relations

HOSTILITY: Emotions run high as two foreign ministers meet –

BERLIN/ANKARA: Turkey’s foreign minister accused Germany on Wednesday of hostility towards his country and Islam, and Berlin complained of increased Turkish espionage on German soil as acrimony between the two Nato allies showed no sign of abating.
Ankara is furious over the cancellation of several rallies by Turkish ministers in Germany, while Berlin has demanded the immediate release of a Turkish-German journalist detained on terrorism charges.
Turkish ministers want to rally support among Germany’s large ethnic Turkish community for President Tayyip Erdogan’s bid to increase his powers in a referendum on April 16. Germany has said they can do so, provided they respect local laws, but has cancelled several rallies, citing security concerns.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was allowed to speak at a rally in Hamburg on Tuesday evening, but he remained very critical of Berlin’s stance after talks in Berlin on Wednesday with his German counterpart Sigmar Gabriel.
“In Germany we see many politicians and the press… are very harsh and very anti-Turkey and we even see Islamophobic sentiment,” Cavusoglu told reporters.
“This is what we see as unacceptable,” he said, urging media to stop their “black propaganda” against Turkey. Cavusoglu said Turkey wanted to remain friends with Germany but that it was for Berlin to decide and to act accordingly.
Speaking at a separate event after meeting Cavusoglu, Gabriel tried to strike a conciliatory note, mindful that Germany needs Turkey’s active cooperation in helping to slow the flow of migrants and refugees to Europe.
“Whatever differences and arguments we have, there is no alternative to talks because (only) then is there a possibility of returning, step by step, to normalised and friendly relations between Germany and Turkey,” said Gabriel.
But he also made clear that campaigning in Germany came with certain conditions, including respect for the “ground rules”, and said comparisons with Nazi Germany overstepped the mark. Gabriel was referring to comments by Erdogan on Sunday in which he described the cancellation of some political rallies in Germany as “fascist actions” reminiscent of the Nazi era. — Reuters