Erdoğan, Steinmeier discuss bilateral relations, Berlin slams Trump's sanctions

DAILY SABAH WITH AA
ISTANBUL
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President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier discussed bilateral relations in a phone call late Monday with the Turkish president's state visit to Berlin approaching. According to the president's office, both leaders reiterated their determination to enhance bilateral ties, saying ministerial level visits will accelerate relations. Both countries' treasury and finance ministers are expected to hold meetings in the upcoming days. Earlier in the day, Erdoğan also held a phone call with British Prime Minister Theresa May to discuss bilateral relations and regional issues. The two also exchanged views on the areas of economy, trade and investment.

The European Union wants to see stable economic development in Turkey, Germany's foreign minister said yesterday.

Speaking to German business representatives and ambassadors at the Foreign Ministry, Heiko Maas criticized U.S. President Donald Trump's sanctions and his economic pressure policy toward Turkey.

"Of course we Europeans have a great interest in stable economic development in Turkey," he said.

Maas said he will visit Turkey next week to meet Turkish government officials and discuss recent economic developments.

The German foreign minister is scheduled to pay a two-day visit to Turkey on Sept. 5-6, ahead of President Erdoğan's key visit to Berlin on Sept. 28-29. Over the past two years political relations between Ankara and Berlin have suffered setbacks, but in recent months both sides have taken steps towards improving ties.

Germany is Turkey's main economic and trade partner. More than 7,500 German companies are active in Turkey. In 2017, the bilateral trade volume reached 37.6 billion euros ($43.6 billion).

Mass on Monday heavily criticized Trump for abruptly and unilaterally imposing sanctions against trade partners such as Turkey, China and Russia.

He said Washington's sanctions forces Europe to formulate a response because the actions affect the bloc as well, adding that maybe the same could be done in the future "against our other important trading partners."

European member states should take joint steps against U.S. dominance in global finance, he suggested, and proposed a European alternative to the U.S.-dominated SWIFT payment system.

Germany's Economy Minister Peter Altmaier also voiced support on Sunday for Turkey amid market worries after Trump imposed sanctions and raised tariffs on Turkey.

Political tensions between Ankara and Washington had sparked worries in markets early this month, after Trump threatened to use economic pressure over the prosecution of an American pastor who faces terrorism-related charges in Turkey.

Altmaier underlined Turkey's importance for Germany and for the EU. "We can have no interest in the destabilization of a country like Turkey with a population of 80 million, which also hosts around 4 million refugees," he said.

Many of the European leaders earlier this month raised their voices to highlight the significance of the Turkish economy that has recently come under attack with the threatening economic showdown of Trump.

Among them, Germany was one of the first countries that voiced strong support for the stabilization of the Turkish economy and emphasize its importance for Turkey's major partners, particularly EU countries.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel emphasized the importance of a strong Turkish economy for Germany in a phone call with President Erdoğan earlier this month, as the two leaders stated their mutual determination to maintain cooperation between the two countries.

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