German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Monday that the German president's invitation to his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan would be an important opportunity to discuss the current differences between Ankara and Berlin.
"I believe that one has to treat an elected head of state in an appropriate manner and that is what the president has done," Maas told a press conference in Berlin.
"And it is especially important to talk with someone with whom you have many unresolved issues," he added.
The remarks came after opposition lawmakers criticized Germany's official invitation for a fall visit by Erdoğan, who won Turkey's landmark elections on June 24.
Turkey is an important partner for Germany, and Chancellor Angela Merkel is interested in meeting Erdoğan, a government spokesperson said Monday.
"We are always interested in talks with Turkey, which is a close and important partner for us in many areas," deputy government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer told a news conference in Berlin.
German language daily, Bild, reported Saturday that President Frank-Walter Steinmeier invited his President Erdoğan to pay a state visit late September.
Besides his meeting with Steinmeier, who holds a largely ceremonial position, Erdoğan was also scheduled to meet Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss bilateral ties and international issues.
No date has yet benn given for the visit.
Erdoğan made his last official visit to Berlin in February 2014.
Political relations between Ankara and Berlin have suffered several setbacks in recent years, but both sides have taken steps in recent weeks to normalize ties.
Last year, German authorities had banned the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) from organizing campaign events ahead of the April 16, 2017 referendum on constitutional amendments on security grounds, but tolerated those of the opposition parties. The Turkish government responded by accusing Germany of using "Nazi methods." Similar double standards against AK Party election campaigns were also employed ahead of the June 24 presidential and parliamentary elections. Relations between the two NATO allies hit new lows following a failed coup in Turkey on July 15, 2016. German politicians have been outspoken critics of Turkey's security crackdown since the coup, which saw thousands of Turkish nationals jailed over links with the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), including around a dozen German nationals in probes targeting various terror groups. Ankara has criticized Berlin for not handing over FETÖ suspects, accused of links with the failed coup attempt that killed 250 people and wounded 2,200 others.
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