Some 600 senior-ranked Turkish officials have sought asylum in Germany since last year’s coup attempt in Turkey, according to a Berlin newspaper. The number highlights the growing uncertainty in the country.
Germany's Funke media group, which includes the Berliner Morgenpost, reported Saturday that the more than 600 asylum applicants comprised 250 persons with Turkish diplomatic passports and 380 with identity papers showing them to be senior Turkish public servants.
Last year's coup attempt, blamed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, was followed by the arrests of 50,000 people in Turkey and 150,000 sackings and suspensions in the military, public and private sectors.
The Berliner Morgenpost said it had obtained the figures from Germany's Interior Ministry, which last month said 196 Turks with diplomatic passports had been granted asylum in Germany.
That count did not include members of Turkey's military, including NATO attaches, who have also sought asylum.
Judicial independence at risk
Strains have emerged in the traditional good relations between Ankara and Berlin over the German government's refusal to extradite asylum seekers, outrage over Turkey's prosecution of dozens of detained German citizens, including journalists, and Erdogan's April referendum to expand his powers.
The Berliner Morgenpost quoted the executive director of the German Association of Judges, Sven Rebehn, as saying that hardly any judicial independence remained in Turkey to exercise controls over Erdogan.
"Thousands of judges and state attorneys have been dismissed and some taken into detention. They have been replaced by government-allied jurists, who are appointed after crash courses," he said.
"As a result, an effective, constitutional legal control of the Erdogan regime through an independent judiciary is largely inconceivable. It's to be feared that the Turkish president will continue to dismantle Turkey's civil society unperturbed."
Held by Turkey: German journalists Deniz Yücel (left), Mesale Tolu (center) and rights advocate Peter Steudtner
Erdogan: EU must make up its mind
In a speech to his Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Friday, Erdogan demanded that the EU at its Brussels summit next week make a decision on Ankara's longstanding bid for accession to the 28-nation bloc.
"Still they string us along. But we will be patient. We say: It will be not us, but you who leaves the ring," Erdogan told his AKP executive.
Germany is home to some 3 million people of Turkish descent and has been a major trading partner and tourist destination for Germans.
ipj/cmk (dpa, Reuters, AFP)