Erdoğan wants to invite Merkel to Turkey once gov't formed in Berlin


President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wants to invite German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Turkey amid recent reciprocal signs of normalization, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told German reporters in Antalya.

"If Germany forms a new government, Erdoğan will either invite Merkel to Turkey, or he might go to Germany. We should maintain dialogue," Çavuşoğlu said on Wednesday evening.

"We want to do everything for a better atmosphere," he added, as the two countries have displayed signs of rapprochement following months of ultimatums and exchanging harsh words and allegations.

"A new year has begun. And it will be a good year. The meeting with my dear friend Sigmar [Gabriel, the German foreign minister] was very positive, very constructive. We had tensions with Germany. Through our efforts, we see rapprochement between Germany and Turkey. Germany has always been our closest ally," he said.After Çavuşoğlu's meeting with Gabriel in Goslar, Germany, a photo was released of Gabriel and Çavuşoğlu having a friendly chat. Mirroring the warm atmosphere of the photo circulated in the media, the top German and Turkish diplomats announced their agreement to keep dialogue channels open as a step to normalize the strained ties while acknowledging the existence of disagreements.

The ties between Ankara and Berlin were strained following the July 15 coup attempt, as Turkish politicians criticized their German counterparts for not showing strong enough solidarity with Ankara against the attempted military takeover.

On the other hand, Berlin has criticized Ankara on human rights violations and imprisoned German citizens. To that end, Çavuşoğlu said that Turkey has no gains from the imprisonment of German journalist Deniz Yücel.

"I have no problem with Deniz Yücel. What is my advantage if I imprison Deniz Yücel? What will I get in return? Nothing. It's poison for our relationships. Do I like this? No. But I cannot intervene in justice just to get rid of this problem," he said.

In the wake of the releases of German human rights activist Peter Steudtner and another German national whose name was not disclosed, in October, German citizen Meşale Tolu was released last month.

"It is a clear signal of alleviation, a step in the right direction," Gabriel said at the time. "We are making progress step by step."

Çavuşoğlu also said that the negative trend in tourism between the two countries is now being fixed after the normalization process.

"We are reversing the negative trend with Germany together. We are already seeing an enormous increase in tourist arrivals for 2018 in early bookings, an increase of 60 percent," he added.

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