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Turkish tensions with Germany

Germany
15.02.2018
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Sticking points in the German-Turkish relationship
Ties between Germany and Turkey have become increasingly strained of late, as Berlin struggles to strike a balance between pressure to criticize President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's increasing authoritarianism, and maintaining good relations with the country, a key partner in managing Europe's refugee crisis.
GALLERY
Berlin (dpa) - Here are some of the main sticking points in the relationship:

PRESS: The detention without formal charge of German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yucel in Istanbul for one year now has been harshly criticized by Berlin, which has demanded his immediate release. The detention of the correspondent for Die Welt is part of a series of attacks on press freedom in Turkey, including the shuttering of dozens of media outlets. Large numbers of journalists are behind bars.
In March 2016, Erdogan began legally pursuing German comedian Jan Boehmermann for reading a poem on television that viciously mocked him.

RIGHTS: German reactions to Turkish crackdowns on the opposition have often been poorly received by Ankara, including those decrying heavy-handedness against protesters after the 2013 Gezi Park demonstrations. Since a failed coup attempt in 2016, tens of thousands have been jailed and the civil service is being purged.

PRESIDENTIAL POWERS: Berlin has been a vocal critic of Erdogan‘s autocratic rule, especially a referendum in April 2017 that granted the presidency sweeping powers and weakened parliament.

ARMS SALES: In January, Germany held off on making a controversial decision on whether to provide an upgrade to Turkey‘s German-made tanks due to the Turkish military‘s offensive in northern Syria. The tank upgrade, to boost protection against landmines, has become the focus of heated debate within Germany since it emerged that German-made Leopard 2 tanks were being used for Turkey‘s latest incursion into Syria.

TERRORISM: Police broke up a protest by some 20,000 Kurds in Cologne against Turkey‘s military offensive in Syria after demonstrators refused police demands to stop waving flags containing banned symbols, including flags of the Kurdistan Workers‘ Party (PKK). Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim on Wednesday said Germany‘s "firm stance" against the activities of the PKK is "encouraging."

ARMENIA RESOLUTION: In June 2016, the German Bundestag passed a resolution that declared the mass killing of Armenians during World War I, at the hands of the Ottoman Empire, to be genocide. Turkey strongly rejects the terminology.

INCIRLIK BAN:
 In June 2017, the Turkish government imposed a ban on German lawmakers visiting Bundeswehr troops stationed at the strategic Incirlik airbase, in Turkey‘s south-east. The ban was eventually lifted, but Germany has since moved its troops frpm Turkey to Jordan. Turkey and Germany are both NATO members.

REFUGEES:
Germany and Europe pushed Turkey in 2015 to better manage its borders to cut down on the number of irregular migrants, including Syrian refugees, who were coming to the bloc across the Aegean to Greece. From Turkey‘s side there is a sense Europe is not sharing enough of the burden. Turkey hosts more than 2 million Syrians.

GERMANY‘S TURKISH POPULATION:
There are 3.5 million people of Turkish descent living in Germany and about half are eligible to vote in Turkish elections and referenda. Many support Erdogan‘s ruling Justice and Development (AKP) party. Many others are ethnic Kurds and the sides sometimes brawl on the streets of Germany.

RALLIES: Erdogan and others often seek to address rallies or gatherings in Germany, often to get votes. In 2016, Germany‘s top court barred Erdogan from addressing 40,000 of his supporters at a Cologne rally via live video link. This issue again came up in 2017, after the German city of Gaggenau prevented the Turkish justice minister from speaking to supporters, citing security concerns.

The EU and VISA-FREE TRAVEL:
Turkey has for years been trying to get into the European Union, but has failed to meet key criteria. Ankara has threatened to cancel the refugee deal if it does not get visa-free access to the bloc for its citizens. Turkey‘s vague anti-terrorism laws are a chief problem, as the EU says they are used against political opponents and violate rights.

SATIRE: In March 2016, Erdogan began legally pursuing German comedian Jan Boehmermann for reading a poem on television that viciously mocked him.

 

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