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Sigmar Gabriel: Hard-line Turkey policy is paying off

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has praised his government's move to put "economic pressure" on Turkey. Germany overhauled its policy toward Turkey in response to the jailing of German journalists and activists.

On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel praised the government's decision to overhaul its policy toward Turkey, telling la newspaper that Germany's hard-line approach and "economic pressure" were paying off. 

Gabriel spoke after the Turkish government, led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, officially withdrew a blacklist of 680 German companies it had accused of having links to terrorist organizations. Among the listed companies were the carmaker Daimler and the chemical firm BASF.

Read more: German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel seeks tougher EU line on Turkey

"There was a broad debate in Turkish society," Gabriel told Tuesday's edition of the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger, "and Erdogan was forced to concede that the blacklist was a misunderstanding."

Watch video 04:35

Turkish politics and implications

In July, Gabriel outlined a "reorientation" of government policy toward Turkey. As part of the sharper measures, German businesses were advised against investing and doing business in Turkey. That measure is believed to have prompted Ankara to swiftly make a U-turn on its blacklist and assure Berlin that no German companies were under investigation.

Germany's government also updated its travel warning, notifying citizens that they would incur "risks" by traveling to Turkey. The Foreign Ministry's travel website also advised German nationals in Turkey to exercise "heightened caution" as consular access had been "restricted in violation of the obligations of international law."

Read more: As German spat deepens, Turkey draws tourists from elsewhere

Gabriel admits sanctions hit small businesses

Germany's top diplomat acknowledged that the hard-line measures weren't without consequence. "Our travel warning is, of course, also affecting the wrong people: the small hotel owners, the restaurant owners and waiters in western Turkey who cater towards European and German customers."

Nevertheless, Gabriel said, Germany must protect its citizens.

"We cannot accept that President Erdogan can simply arrest and imprison German nationals," Gabriel said.

Relations between the countries reached a new low when Turkey's government arrested of a group of rights campaigners,  including the  German citizen Peter Steudtner, in July. Berlin has also demanded the release of the German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yücel, who was arrested in Istanbul in February and now faces charges of inciting hatred and producing terrorist propaganda on behalf of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party - all of which he emphatically denies.

Watch video 01:47

German-Turkish economics: What's happening?

dm/mkg (dpa, AFP)

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