Berlin says Germany wants to improve dialogue with Ankara

ANADOLU AGENCY
BERLIN
Published 27.10.2017 20:00

Germany's foreign minister reaffirmed Berlin's willingness to improve relations with Ankara in a phone call with Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Friday.

German Foreign Ministry deputy spokeswoman Maria Adebahr told a news conference in Berlin that Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel had a telephone conversation with Çavuşoğlu Friday morning. The exchange came after an Istanbul court released German human rights activist Peter Steudtner from prison pending trial.

"We are happy that Mr. Steudtner came back home," Adebahr said.

"Our foreign minister clearly said that the German government remained interested in dialogue with Turkey and improving relations between our two countries," she added.

Steudtner and seven other suspects were arrested in July in Istanbul during a digital security and information management meeting on suspicion they were aiming to incite violent and chaotic mass public protests.

Despite repeated calls by German politicians for the release of Steudtner, the Turkish government ruled out any political influence on the judiciary and advised them to wait for the court decision.

Ties between Ankara and Berlin have been strained since the defeated coup in Turkey last year as Turkish politicians criticize their German counterparts for failing to show strong solidarity with the Ankara against the attempted military takeover.

Ankara also criticizes Berlin for ignoring outlawed groups and terrorist organizations like the PKK and Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), which continue to operate in Germany. FETÖ and its U.S.-based leader, Fetullah Gülen, orchestrated the failed coup of July 15, 2016.

Germany, which is home to 3 million Turkish-Germans, is among the countries where FETÖ has managed to organize large networks, including dozens of businesses, private schools and media organizations.

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