Sep 09 2018

Turkey-Germany relations may heal over war in Syria – Arab Weekly

Turkey-Germany relations could improve after a long deterioration owing to holding with the war in Syria, Thomas Seibert wrote for the Arab Weekly on Sunday. 

"The war in Syria could boost efforts by Turkey and Germany to improve relations after a rough patch marred by Turkish complaints of Islamophobia and the detention of German citizens in Turkey."

Turkey aims to repair ties with European allies amid an escalating financial crisis due to a severe dispute with the United States over the U.S. support for Kurdish YPG (Peoples' Protection Units) and the detention of U.S. citizens in Turkey. 

Germany, Ankara’s primary trading partner and home to a 3 million Turkish community, is to invest Turkey granting Turkey as a "gatekeeper preventing an uncontrolled flow of refugees into Europe," said Seibert. 

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas spoke Wednesday before departing for a two-day visit to Turkey where he was scheduled to meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other Turkish officials. 

“Germany is prepared to redouble its humanitarian engagement if there is fighting along a broad front in the region,” quoted Siebert the German FM, citing Berlin is volunteered to help Ankara if another refugee influx occurs due to an expected offensive by the Syrian government against rebels in Idlib province near the Turkish border.

“If Idlib crumbles, so does Europe,” quoting Yalcin Akdogan, a lawmaker from the Justice and Development Party (AKP), Seibert has stressed that Turkey has a strong refugee card on the table if the relations with Europe weakens. In case of another refugee crisis due to Syria's offensive in Idlib, President Erdogan will have a stronger hand. 

Germany, having about 7000 German companies in Turkey, is capable of easing Ankara's economic crisis, according to Seibert. 

Ankara is expected to take substantial steps towards complying with EU standards on human rights defined by the Copenhagen Criteria.

However, Halil Karaveli, an analyst at the Institute for Security and Development Policy in Stockholm "Germans and other Europeans should limit their expectations in dealing with Turkey and should not demand a return to EU-inspired policies of reform", Seibert quotes.

As long as Turkey stays as a vital "barrier" for Europe for a refugee inflow, Germany and Europe keep supporting Ankara, Seibert implied.

The U.S. tariffs on Turkish goods triggered a breakdown in Turkey's currency, threatening a financial crisis. The Turkish and German finance ministers are to meet in Berlin later this month to reportedly discuss financial support for Turkey.

Last year, Erdogan accused Germany of "Nazi practices" after Turkish ministers were barred from holding election rallies in the country. Relations also soured over the detention in Turkey of German citizens, like Deniz Yucel and Mesale Tolu, for what Berlin considers to be political reasons.

Analysts say an EU agreement with Turkey to control migrants entering European countries remains a compelling reason for Berlin and the rest of the bloc to improve relations and maintain Turkey's economic stability.