“Our traditionally good relations have been seriously put to the test on numerous occasions in recent years,” said Foreign Minister Heiko Maas prior to his departure for Turkey at the beginning of September .
Indeed, the Federal Government has made it clear time and again that it is concerned about a number of developments in Turkey, including in the areas of human rights, the rule of law, freedom of the press and freedom of expression. It is not only the Foreign Minister who is openly addressing these issues in his talks with Turkey. “If we want to make progress on this, then we need to talk to one another more,” said Maas .
Close human ties
It is clear that Germany has closer relations with Turkey than with virtually any other country in the world. Germany is home to more than three million people with Turkish roots. “We have a responsibility to ensure that political tensions do not put these human ties under strain,” said the German Foreign Minister.
Germany and Turkey enjoy close economic ties. Over 7200 companies with German owned share capital, employing tens of thousands of people, are doing business on the Turkish market. At the same time, Germany is Turkey’s most important export market, which is another reason why a stable Turkey is important to Germany.
Germany and Turkey share many interests on the international stage. Both countries have cooperated closely in NATO for the past 63 years, and Turkey is also a member of the OSCE and the Council of Europe .
Above all, Turkey is an important partner with regard to cooperation in the region. It is vital to involve Turkey in the efforts to achieve a political solution to the conflict in Syria. The fact that Moscow and Ankara discussed the establishment of a demilitarised Zone in Idlib in mid September sent an important signal. In the run up to this understanding, the Federal Government worked intensively to promote it. If this agreement is upheld, then it can help to prevent a humanitarian disaster.
There are therefore good reasons why the Federal Government continues to seek dialogue with Turkey. Foreign Minister Maas firmly believes that “it is in Germany’s strategic interest to shape our relations with Turkey in a constructive fashion. We must begin to talk more with one another than about one another.”