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Deutschland Außenminister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Türkei & Sigmar Gabriel in Berlin
Image: Getty Images/AFP/T. Schwarz

Germany reluctant to lift travel warning against Turkey

March 6, 2018

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said during a visit to Berlin that Turkey is no less safe than other European states. Germany issued a travel warning against Turkey back in July, citing the risk of detention.


Germany is not prepared to reconsider its travel warning as long as Turkey continues to impose a state of emergency, acting German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said following a meeting with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu on Tuesday.

The meeting in Berlin — part of Cavusoglu's third trip to Germany since the beginning of 2018 — took place amid efforts by both countries to mend their damaged diplomatic relationship.

Read more: Foreign ministers of Germany and Turkey urge rapprochement

What happened:

  • Cavusoglu urged his German counterpart to retract the travel warning against Turkey, which was issued last July, arguing that it "did not reflect the good, friendly relations between the two countries."
  • Gabriel, however, cited the ongoing state of emergency in Turkey, as well as the arbitrary detention of joint German-Turkish nationals, as justification for the warning. 
  • Germany's top diplomat said he looked forward to Turkey lifting the state of emergency and the return to normal relations between the two states. Germans deserved to visit Turkey, "one of the most beautiful countries in the world," he said. 
  • Gabriel later tweeted that general bilateral relations between the two countries had improved in recent months. "It is now important to build on these steps," he added.

Read more: Germany halts plans to upgrade Turkey's Leopard tanks

What were the reactions?

Opposition politician and former German Green Party leader Cem Özdemir welcomed the diplomatic dialogue with Turkey, but warned the government against a return to business-as-usual. "There can be no normalization of the German-Turkish relationship without the release of imprisoned journalists and opposition figures," he said. Four German citizens are being held in Turkish custody.

Why this matters: Berlin and Ankara have tried to improve their testy relationship following multiple diplomatic spats in the past few years. Turkey removed one major headache in mid-February when it released the German journalist Deniz Yucel. The German government had severely criticized Turkey for the dual-national's year-long captivity.

Travel warnings: In response to the detention of journalists and rights activists in Turkey, the German Foreign Ministry issued a statement last July warning German citizens that they risked detention if they traveled to the country.

The number of Germans visiting Turkey has plummeted in recent years. In the first 10 months of 2015, 5.1 million Germans visited Turkey. During the same time period in 2017, only 3.3 million Germans visited.

Read more: German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel condemned for getting cozy with Turkey

Push for tourism: Cavusoglu is set to attend the international trade fair ITB in Berlin on Wednesday with Turkish Tourism Minister Numan Kurtulmus. Cavusoglu's electoral district is located in Antalya — a tourist destination that has seen a drop off in the number of visitors in recent years following Islamist terror attacks and heightened political instability.

Third bilateral meeting: Tuesday's meeting follows Cavusoglu's appearance at the Munich Security Conference shortly after Yucel's release and a meeting with Gabriel in his central German hometown of Goslar in early January.

Kurdish leader Salih Muslim: Ankara asked Berlin on Monday to detain and extradite Syrian Kurdish leader Salih Muslim. Turkey has accused Muslim, who was seen at a pro-Kurdish demonstration in Berlin on Saturday, of being a terrorist.

Gabriel told Cavusoglu on Tuesday that Germany would treat the Turkey's extradition request for Muslim "in accordance with the rule of law."

Gabriel told reporters during a joint news conference with Cavusoglu: "We have in fact received a verbal note from the Turkish foreign ministry, and we will send this request, as always, to the (German) justice ministry and they will examine it on constitutional grounds."

Read more: Turkey rift: German politicians demand economic pressure

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dm, amp/jm (dpa, AFP)

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