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DIPLOMACY >Germany should change its stance on Turkey: FM Çavuşoğlu

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Germany should change its stance on Turkey, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has once again said, adding that he believes the recent dispute between the two NATO allies will come to an end after the upcoming elections in the European powerhouse. 

“We hope we will take steps to take relations back to the former level with a new government in the upcoming period,” Çavuşoğlu said during a joint press conference in Ankara with his visiting Pakistani counterpart, Khawaja Muhammad Asif.

“We find [Angela] Merkel’s approach correct and more mature. Acting in good sense even in an election atmosphere is our duty,” he said on Sept. 12, contrasting the German chancellor’s stance with that of German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel from the Social Democratic Party (SPD). 

Freezing Germany’s weapons exports to Turkey would only strengthen the local Turkish arms industry, Çavuşoğlu claimed, responding to remarks by Gabriel, who stated on Sept. 11 that Berlin was putting most arms exports to Turkey “on hold” due to recent bilateral tensions. 

“These kinds of approaches actually only lead to the strengthening of our own defense industry,” he said. 
“In this sense we will only increase national and local production in all areas. We will produce our own fighter jets and helicopters,” he added. 

Sales by top Turkish arms companies rose by more than 10 percent in 2015, according to an analysis released last December which also put Turkey’s ASELSAN and Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) among the world’s top 100 arms firms. 

Turkish defense and aviation industry exports to Germany alone rose 17 percent year-on-year in the first eight months of 2017, the Turkish Exporters Assembly (TİM) announced last week. 

Çavusoğlu called Gabriel his “friend,” but said his approach ill-suited the foreign minister of a country on the eve of general elections. 

“We understand they started with 30 percent in the polls and now his party’s support has fallen to 22 percent. But I’m not responsible for this. He’s responsible for it, and he was the head of his party until recently,” he said. 

Gabriel’s SPD is a partner in the Angela Merkel-led Christian Democratic Union (CDU) coalition government.
Çavuşoğlu said Gabriel cannot win more votes by condemning Turkey. He also praised German Chancellor Merkel’s remarks on Sept. 12 opposing a blanket ban on arms exports to Turkey. 

Merkel, whose CDU is leading in the polls, has been under pressure from the SPD and other opposition parties to toughen her tone toward Turkey amid recent political tensions.

September/13/2017

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