Turkey, Germany agree on need for dialogue to improve ties: Turkish foreign minister

Turkey, Germany agree on need for dialogue to improve ties: Turkish foreign minister

GOSLAR – Germany
Turkey, Germany agree on need for dialogue to improve ties: Turkish foreign minister

Turkish foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Jan. 6 he had agreed with his German counterpart Sigmar Gabriel that "difficulties and disagreement" with Germany needed to be solved through dialogue and cooperation.

“We have differences of opinion in some issues. Our relations were strained, but we believe that this can be overcome through dialogue. We believe that we can improve our relations through a mutual dialogue and genuine cooperation,” Çavuşoğlu said during a press conference with Gabriel.

The two foreign ministers’ meeting took place at the Kaiserpfalz Imperial Palace in Goslar in central Germany. 

Gabriel has invited the Turkish minister to his home town of Goslar, after the two had meet in November in Çavusoğlu's southern home region of Antalya.

“We have found an opportunity here, in a genuine atmosphere as in Antalya, to evaluate what we can do to improve our relations…As Gabriel said, we do not have to be of the same mind on every issue, but it is better that we put our differences of opinion in parenthesis and move on,” Çavuşoğlu said on Jan. 6.

Gabriel agreed with his Turkish counterpart to do everything possible to improve the ties between Berlin and Ankara that have soured in a series of disputes.

Gabriel pointed to historic links between the countries including the role Turkish guest workers played in rebuilding Germany after World War Two, Turkey's hospitality in taking in German refugees during the Nazi era and the 3 million-strong Turkish community here.

"We've both made it our business to do everything we can to overcome the difficulties there have been in German-Turkish relations and to find more common ground in the future by remembering everything that binds us together," Gabriel said.

Both of the foreign ministers pair acknowledged that differences remained. Çavuşoğlu said one bone of contention was whether Turkey should be allowed to join the European Union - a move that Germany opposes - but he sounded a conciliatory note.

"There is benefit in pushing our disagreements aside and continuing on our path. We should focus on issues that serve as win-win for our countries, like the Customs Union," Çavuşoğlu said.

Despite not being a member of the EU, Turkey has been of the Customs Union agreement since 1995. However the mutual trade agreement does not cover agriculture (except for processed agricultural products), services, or public procurement.     

Ankara has been pushing the EU to include them in the updated agreement, but Turkey's tense ties with Germany have stalled the process.     

One of the disputes between Berlin and Ankara centers on the arrest of Deniz Yücel, a correspondent for German newspaper Die Welt. Turkish authorities accuse him of spreading propaganda for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). He denies the charge.

Gabriel said he had discussed thorny issues including Yücel's case with Çavuşoğlu but did not give details.  

Germany is Turkey's biggest trade partner but exports from Europe's largest economy to Turkey dropped by 5.9 percent year-on-year in the first nine months of 2017.

Gabriel told magazine Der Spiegel on Jan. 5 Germany had refused to authorize "a large number of arms exports" to Turkey and that would remain the case until Yücel's case was resolved.

But on Jan 6, he said the German government would consider whether to deliver mine protection gear for armored vehicles in Turkey, an issue not linked to arrests, he said.

Following the press conference, Gabriel was expected to take his guest on a stroll through the heritage-listed medieval old town of Goslar, situated near Brunswick on the slopes of the Harz mountains.