Today, on Wednesday, 5 September, Foreign Minister Maas makes his first official visit to Turkey. There, he will meet with his counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, with Speaker of the Grand National Assembly Binali Yıldırım, and with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan. The visit will also include a stop at the German School of Istanbul and a meeting with representatives of civil society.
Long-standing close political, economic and social ties
The trip comes at a time when it is unclear what lies ahead for Turkish-German relations. Traditionally, the two countries enjoy close ties. Germany is Turkey’s most important trading partner and the largest direct investor in Turkey. Both Turkey and Germany are members of NATO, and Turkey plays a key role in efforts to find a solution to the conflict in Syria. Moreover, nearly three million people with Turkish roots live in Germany.
Speaking prior to his departure, Foreign Minister Maas emphasised the following:
Recent relations strained by the human rights situation and arrests
The Foreign Minister also underscored that Germany’s traditionally good relations with Turkey have been severely put to the test in recent years. According to international observers, fundamental rule of law principles were threatened by the reaction to the attempted coup in July 2016. Also, numerous people were accused of supporting the putschists or other terrorist groups and subsequently arrested. Those currently still detained include seven German citizens who, according to the German Government, are being held for political reasons.
Maas: We’re determined to keep working hard to improve our relations
Foreign Minister Maas has stated that during his visit he intends to address the human rights situation in Turkey and the many people who are in custody. The continued detention of German citizens in particular is burdening relations between the two countries. His talks will also focus on the situation in Syria.
The Minister declared that, “given the deep and close ties between our societies and the many different interests we share, it is our clear intention to continue to work hard to improve relations”. He went on to say that, with his trip to Turkey, he wants to play his part.