Gov’t says Turkey safe for German investments, denies targeting firms

Gov’t says Turkey safe for German investments, denies targeting firms

Gov’t says Turkey safe for German investments, denies targeting firms

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The Turkish government has sought to stem the economic fall-out from a growing diplomatic crisis with NATO ally Germany, noting that German investments in Turkey were fully guaranteed by both Ankara and its laws.

“All German investments in Turkey are 100 percent under the guarantee of the Turkish government, the state and law,” Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci said in an interview in Ankara late on July 20.

“The Turkey-Germany crisis is temporary. One must refrain from words that would cause lasting harm to the economies. Germany must reassess comments that are inappropriate,” he noted. 

Zeybekci also denied reports that Turkey gave Berlin a list of companies it was targeting for suspected links to last year’s coup attempt.

The Die Zeit newspaper reported this week that Turkish authorities had several weeks ago handed Berlin a list of 68 German companies, including Daimler and BASF, that they accused of having links to U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, who is believed to have orchestrated last July’s failed coup.

Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım strongly refuted these claims on July 21, noting that Turkey was safe for German investors. 

“Some reports are claiming that Turkey banned 68 companies. This is completely fake news. These are already semi-Turkish companies,” he said on July 21. 

Germany on July 20 told its citizens to exercise caution if traveling to Turkey and threatened measures that could hinder German investment there, as its impatience grew with Ankara after the detention of rights activists.

Turkey this month detained several human rights activists, including a German and the local head of rights group Amnesty International, as part of the widespread crackdown that followed last year’s failed coup.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has said Berlin’s policies toward Turkey should go in a “new direction” and noted that he could not advise companies to invest in a country without legal certainty.

Germany was Turkey’s top export destination in 2016, buying $14 billion worth of Turkish goods, according to IMF data. It was also the second biggest source of Turkish imports, at $21.5 billion. Only China, at $25.4 billion, exported more to Turkey.

Zeybekci said Germany’s behavior in cautioning its citizens over travel to Turkey was “unfortunate,” but he did not see harm accruing to tourism.

So far this year, bookings from Germany have accounted for some 10 percent of Turkey’s tourists, according to data compiled by Reuters. 

Last year, the number of foreign visitors to Turkey fell to 30 percent amid a spate of bombings by outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants - the lowest in nine years. The travel sector contributes about $30 billion to the economy in a normal year.