Germany-Turkey relations hit rock bottom in 2017 – analysts

Mutual mistrust in the relations between Turkey and Germany creates a fertile ground for new crises, analysts said on Germany’s public broadcaster DW.

Here is a timeline of how the relations derailed:

  • In February, German newspaper Die Welt’s correspondent, Turkish-German dual citizen Deniz Yücel was arrested in Turkey. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called Yücel a “terrorist and a spy” and Berlin described his detainment as “political hostage-taking.”
  • In March and April, German municipalities banned politicians from Erdoğan’s ruling party from campaigning in Germany, where a significant Turkish migrant community lives. Erdoğan compared the bans to “Nazi Germany,” and the real far-right in Germany gained popularity.
  • In May, Turkey blocked German parliamentarians from visiting German soldiers in NATO base in İncirlik, Turkey, and Germany in response moved its troops out.
  • In July, Erdoğan’s visit to Hamburg for G20 summit was marred when German government did not allow him to address Turks in Germany.
  • End of July, German human rights activist Peter Steudtner was arrested, Germany issued travel warnings for Turkey.
  • In September, former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder had a secret meeting with Erdoğan for the release of Steudtner, who was released by a court in October.
  • In December, Deniz Yücel was placed under better conditions in jail.

Kristian Brakel, the head of the Heinrich Böll Foundation in Istanbul, said that there is now a ‘quiet rapprochement’ taking place between Berlin and Ankara. If Turkey’s political situation continues to worsen, Germany’s approach to Turkey will remain a point of debate, he said.

Mustafa Nail Alkan, a political scientist from Gazi University in Ankara, said he does not rule out new crises while the old ones remain unresolved. Turkey’s 2019 general elections could prove to be a ‘powder keg’ he said, if both sides cannot build trust quickly.