Turkish and German foreign ministers meet in Munich, pledge closer dialogue

Turkish and German foreign ministers meet in Munich, pledge closer dialogue

MUNICH – Anadolu Agency
Turkish and German foreign ministers meet in Munich, pledge closer dialogue

The foreign ministers of Turkey and Germany agreed on Feb. 16 to work towards improving bilateral relations after a period of tensions between Ankara and Berlin. 

Speaking to reporters in Munich following a meeting with his German counterpart Sigmar Gabriel, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said they have agreed on deepening dialogue and cooperation. 

"As foreign ministers, we will continue working together to strengthen and deepen our bilateral relations between Turkey and Germany as well as our cooperation on many regional issues,” Çavuşoğlu said. 

The meeting, on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, coincided with the release of German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yücel, who was jailed in Turkey last year.

Çavuşoğlu said that Yücel’s release was an independent decision of the court and the government did not have any influence on the ruling. He said that the Turkish government only asked the Ministry of Justice to speed up the proceedings. 

The long detention period of Yücel, a correspondent for the German daily Die Welt, had been a source of friction between the two countries. 

The 32nd High Penal Court in Istanbul on Feb. 16 ordered Yücel’s release from custody pending trial. 

“We overcame one of the issues between us. Now we have to focus on a more positive agenda,” Çavuşoğlu said.

German Foreign Minister Gabriel also welcomed Yücel’s release. 

"I know that this was an independent decision of the court,” he said, thanking the Turkish government for helping to speed up the proceedings. 

"This is a signal that diplomacy -- without megaphones, speaking to each other -- can solve difficult issues,” he said. 

Gabriel said Germany and Turkey would enhance dialogue and cooperation in various fields, including the economy, energy and security and would try to overcome remaining differences. 

"We are partners in NATO. We have the same security interests,” he added. 

On the next day, speaking at a panel discussion in the Munich Security Conference on Feb. 17, Gabriel underlined significance of Turkey for Germany, and defended his efforts for normalization of ties between Berlin and Ankara.

"Turkey is a big and important neighbor. They have a big influence in international politics,” he said. 

He also said that Yücel’s release has cleared “a huge obstacle” in developing closer cooperation between the two countries.