Oct 25 2018

Abolish EU-Turkish non-tariff trade barriers, says German economy minister

Germany Economy and Energy Minister Peter Altmeier has called for the elimination of non-tariff trade barriers between the European Union and Turkey during a joint press conference with Turkish Economy and Treasury Minister Berat Albayrak.

"We are determined to maintain our trade ties with Turkey in difficult times, too, and we will do so," Turkish state-run Anadolu Agency quoted Altmaier as saying.

The German minister expressed his hopes that Germany could benefit from its large Turkish minority’s connections with Turkey in the future.

The press conference took place in the Turkish capital city of Ankara on Thursday ahead of Turkey and Germany’s Joint Economic and Trade Commission (JETCO) meeting, which will be held for the first time this week. A joint energy forum will also be held on Friday.

The 35-person business delegation from Germany led by Altmaier and the JETCO commission come after significant strides forward in bilateral ties this year, after a protracted period of tensions between the countries.

Altmaier said renewable energy, tourism and new technologies would be topics for discussion during the meetings.

At the press conference Albayrak lauded the strength of Turkish-German economic relations and spoke of his hope to use these as a basis to improve political relations.

Relations between the two countries have reached a point where they can serve as “an example to the world,” the Turkish minister said, adding that he hoped improved political relations could also strengthen lines of communication between the countries.

German-Turkish relations would be further strengthened if the truth about Turkey’s current political circumstances is communicated to the German public, Albayrak said.

The Turkish minister was likely referring to Turkey’s reputation on human rights and rule of law issues, which has been adversely affected by a crackdown on dissent since the 2016 coup attempt.

Concerns in Europe about Turkey’s record in these areas were strong enough to result in a suspension of Turkey’s accession application. The Turkish government says tough measures have been necessary to counter terrorism threats.

Albayrak’s comments included one statement that may have raised eyebrows in Germany. In remarks quoted in Turkish press, the Turkish minister described the death of Ümit Dursun, a Turkish-German man who was tasered by German police while threatening suicide, as the result of disproportionate force.