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Foreign Minister Heiko Maas: “We need a constructive relationship” 

16.09.2018 - Interview

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas issued the following statement to the German Press Agency (dpa) with regard to Turkish President Erdogan’s visit to Germany:

The fact that President Erdogan’s visit is the subject of critical coverage and may lead to protests is a reflection of the democratic realities in our country. However, the upshot of this cannot be that Mr Erdogan can no longer visit Germany. On the contrary, there are many things that we must discuss. We must ensure that we at least have normal relations with Turkey. Over three million people with Turkish roots live in Germany. Domestic conflicts in Turkey can easily spill over into Germany as well. No one here is interested in this, and this is why we need a constructive relationship.

Following the elections and the lifting of the state of emergency, and also against the backdrop of the economic situation in Turkey, I believe that the time is right to normalise relations. After all, it is much better to talk to each other than just to talk about each other via the media. The Turkish side is aware that there are many open questions in our relations. We have always maintained that a number of developments in Turkey give us cause for concern – particularly in the area of the rule of law and human rights. We have to talk about this, and we are doing this in all of our talks, and not least within the framework of this state visit. We want to try and make progress, also with respect to difficult issues. That is our legitimate expectation for President Erdogan’s visit.

We in the Federal Government reached a clear decision that we do not want such events during an election campaign. We did not have to labour the point. We conveyed this to our Turkish partners, and this was taken on board. We are preparing the visit in close consultation with Turkey. The Turkish side is aware of our expectation that there will be no signals that run counter to the normalisation process. Germany is home to more than three million people with Turkish roots. It is for this reason alone that we have an interest in shaping our relations constructively and treating one another with respect. We do not want political differences to place our many human and social ties under strain.

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