Chancellor Merkel has dismissed Turkey's warning about traveling to Germany, saying that Turkish citizens are more than welcome to visit. Ankara had cautioned that its citizens run the risk of facing racism or terrorism.
No Turkish citizen should be afraid of traveling to Germany during its election season, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Sunday.
"I want to be very clear here: Any Turkish citizen can come visit us," Merkel said during a campaign stop in the western town of Delbrück.
"No journalists are arrested here. No journalists are put into detention here. Here, we have freedom of expression and the rule of law. And we're proud of that," the chancellor added.
According to the German Foreign Office, at least 10 Germans are currently detained in Turkey on political charges, including Deniz Yücel, a German-Turkish journalist with Die Welt newspaper.
On Saturday, Turkey's Foreign Ministry issued a travel warning telling Turkish citizens visiting or living in Germany to be cautious amid reports of racism during the country's election campaign.
"Political leaders in Germany are establishing their election campaigns on foundations of being anti-Turkey and blocking our country's EU membership," the Turkish statement said.
The Foreign Ministry statement also told its citizens that Germany welcomes terrorist groups, such as the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the network of the US-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen.
Terrorists "walk freely on the streets" of Germany, the ministry alleged.
Berlin-Ankara ties strained
Both Merkel and her main rival in the upcoming September 24 national election, Martin Schulz, called for an end to Turkey's EU membership talks during a television debate last week.
Schulz harshly criticized the Turkish government's travel warning, saying at a campaign event on Saturday that "Germany is not a country that can accept such indignity from Turkey."
Relations between the two countries plummeted after a series of diplomatic crises that followed last year's failed attempt to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Read more: German MPs visit Konya NATO base in Turkey
Berlin has strongly criticized Ankara's post-coup crackdown that has seen over 50,000 people arrested.
Turkey was enraged by Germany granting asylum to Turks wanted by Ankara and by its barring of Turkish political rallies in Germany.
Erdogan previously issued a statement to Turks in Germany not to cast their ballots for Germany's three major parties. Berlin responded by telling the Turkish president not to "meddle."
Around 3 million people of Turkish origin live in Germany, 1 million of whom have the right to vote in the upcoming election.
rs/jm (AFP, dpa)