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Turkey: German Arms Sales Frozen; Travel Warning Issued for German Citizens

Berlin (AHT– Germany has frozen all arms deliveries to Turkey, the Bild newspaper reported on July 21, amid a row between the NATO partners that has sharply worsened since the arrest of several rights activists in Istanbul, according the Turkish Newspaper Hurriyet Daily News.

Berlin stepped up its travel advisory for Turkey on July 20 and warned it would review state guarantees for foreign investment there—measures which Ankara labelled “blackmail and threats.”Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel held a press statement yesterday and announced a series of sanctions on the Erdoğan regime after German human rights activist Peter Steudtner was arrested in Turkey.

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“We want Turkey to be a part of the West, or at least remain in its current position, but it takes two to tango,” Sigmar Gabriel at a press conference in Berlin. “I cannot make out any willingness on the part of the current Turkish government to follow this path with us. For that reason Germany is forced to reorient its Turkey policy. The first consequences will be new travel advisories for German citizens in Turkey.”

Gabriel said that Germans traveling to Turkey were incurring “risks,” and the ministry website recommended Germans should exercise “heightened caution” when visiting Turkey since “consular access” to Germans detained in Turkey had been “restricted in violation of the obligations of international law.”

Turkish President Erdogan
Image: Kremlin

Gabriel announced three points of sanctions, “cutting off EU funds”, “travel and investment warning for citizens” and “reconsidering credit guarantees”.

As part of a sweeping overhaul of bilateral ties, Germany is also “freezing all planned and ongoing arms deliveries to Turkey,” the top-circulation Bild newspaper reported without citing a source.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s right-hand man, Peter Altmaier, did not confirm or deny the report in a ZDF television interview but warned that “we will at any time consider whether further measures are necessary.”

Relations between Turkey and Germany, home to three million ethnic Turks, have been badly strained, particularly after the failed coup last year.

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In the war of words, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble compared Turkey with the former communist German Democratic Republic (GDR).

“Turkey is arresting people arbitrarily and not respecting even minimal consular standards. It reminds me of the way it was in the GDR. When you travelled there, you knew if something happens to you, no one can help you,” said Schaeuble.

Altmaier also confirmed that Berlin would urge Brussels to freeze 4.45 billion euros ($5.2 billion) in EU funds theoretically earmarked until the end of 2020 for Turkey, a long-term aspirant for membership to the bloc.

This post was originally written for and published by American Herald Tribune.