German Ambassador: Turkey’s place is with West
Martin Erdmann, the German Ambassador to Ankara, said on April 4 that there was “no logical place for Turkey’s geopolitical location other than the Euro-Atlantic sphere,” adding that he wanted to say this “on the next day of the laying ground for a Turkish-Russian nuclear power plant.”
Erdmann was referring to Turkey’s first nuclear plant in Akkuyu with Russian technology, whose groundbreaking ceremony was held on April 3.
“Turkey has no place other than the Atlantic alliance thanks to its geopolitical positioning. And I tell you this only one day after Turkey and Russia laid the foundation for the construction of a nuclear power plant in southern Turkey,” Erdmann said in a press-lunch with a group of reporters in Istanbul.
“Bosch is a German company that offers jobs to 17,000. It exports some 90 percent of its production in Turkey, which roughly refers to some 1.5 percent of the country’s overall exports. The German automotive industry would halt if Bosch Turkey stopped production only for one week. This is a good example that showcases how the economies of the two countries are connected,” he said.
“The German economy would be harmed without Turkey and vice versa.”
There are some 90,000 companies in Germany with Turkish capital, Erdmann recalled.
“Their revenues add to 50 billion euros. This is a matchless success story.”
A discourse that suggests replacing the European Union with Russia or China is “nothing but a fantasy, which is not connected to Turkey’s reality,” he said.
Germany has supported Turkey’s fight against terrorism and that may include the right to defend itself against attacks from Syria, Erdmann said.
“Turkey has the right to defend itself against terror attacks from Syria and we think that the capture of Afrin in the Olive Branch Operation can be seen as part of Turkey’s anti-terror operation. However, Turkey’s military presence in Syria must be temporary.”
Answering questions regarding those alleged members of the U.S.-based Islamist preacher Fethullah Gülen who asked for asylum from Germany after the 2016 military coup attempt in Turkey, Erdmann said his country was ready to cooperate with Turkey on criminals but needed “individual, solid evidence.”
”We have had difficulty in grasping the role of the Gülen movement in the 2016 coup attempt. We are ready to negotiate with the Turkish government regarding the extradition requests or accusations regarding individuals allegedly linked to the Gülen movement,” he said.
“When there is an extradition request for an individual allegedly linked to the Gülen movement, we need individual criminal responsibility and provability, which is valid for all countries that are member of the Council of Europe. Reasons like an account in a bank, an application on a mobile phone or a school that a person went to are not enough to be a proof for a crime. We need documents and proof to be able to carry out investigations into such cases. On the other hand, we cannot forget the fact that the Gülen movement and the AK Party acted hand in hand for a long time. In such a case, Turkey needs to understand that foreigners may not be able to understand a situation in which a partner suddenly turns into an enemy.”
The new German government did not elaborate on its Turkey policy; however, “we expect that our bilateral relations will continue to be good,” the diplomat said.
On tourism, a boycott on Turkey is out of question, he added.
“Our citizens travel to everywhere that they think they will enjoy their time, paying their own money. However, they wouldn’t go to places where they are concerned over their security or freedom. The numbers of German citizens visiting Turkey dropped in 2016, 2017 but we are hopeful of this year. I think the figure will near 4 million.”
The ambassador also said that Germany wanted better relations with Turkey and better Turkish-European Union (EU) relations but Turkey had to take certain political steps to fulfill its undertakings.
“We do not want the accession negotiations for the EU-Turkey relations to be stopped or suspended. These negotiations, which seem to be ‘de facto’ suspended, should continue. This way, Turkey will become more modernized and adapt to the EU acquis.”