On Thursday, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas responded to the statement made by Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, who called some Germans “terrorists” and “traitors”, by saying that Germany finds the proclamation unacceptable and worrying.
During an election rally on Sunday, Soylu said that people in Europe and Germany who attend terrorist organization meetings would be arrested when they arrive in Turkey.
“We have now taken precautions for those who attend terrorist organizations’ rallies in Germany and Europe and then go on vacation in Antalya, Bodrum, and Mugla,” Soylu said, referring to the popular tourist provinces in Turkey.
“All right then, let us see. If they dare come, they will be detained as soon as they arrive at the airports and head straight to prison. Impossible, no way!” he said, claiming that it will not be easy for those who act treacherously abroad to then go to Turkey for a vacation.
The German minister reacted to the Turkish minister calling the statement unacceptable and worrying. Germany is investigating the statement in detail with Turkish authorities and will then decide what steps to take. He finished his address by stating that Germany reserves the right to take steps in this regard.
Maria Adebahr, German Foreign Office spokesperson, also commented, saying that the Turkish minister’s statement was “not helpful in the current situation.”
During a regular press conference on Thursday, Adebahr said, “I want to remind German citizens that we have already been facing the risk of being arrested in Turkey,” referring to travel warnings and safety information given in October that advised German citizens to avoid criticizing the Turkish government and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on social media, if they wanted to visit Turkey.
“I recommend that all of you who want to go to Turkey should read those warnings. Statements made in Germany that are covered under freedom of expression can cause prosecution in Turkey,” she added, according to DW.
After Soylu’s statement, the German press started announcing that there is a risk of detainment for German tourists in Turkey. Sezgin Tanrıkulu, the Turkish deputy of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), told German Television that Soylu’s statement would cause panic among innocent people and, as a result, effect Turkish tourism negatively.
“Statement taken out of context and distorted”
In response to allegations by the German media, Hami Aksoy, spokesperson for Turkish Foreign Ministry, said that the statements made by the Turkish Minister regarding the fight against terrorism were deliberately taken out of context and distorted. “As always, Turkey will continue to welcome tourists from Germany and all other countries with traditional Turkish hospitality,” he said.
According to DW, Soylu’s statement was aimed at affiliates of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) who hold regular rallies in support of Kurdish matters. However, Turkey considers some groups that are legal in Germany terrorist organizations, such as the Gulen Movement. Turkish government accused the movement of being behind the failed 2016 coup attempt in Turkey.
In recent years, several German Turks, journalist Deniz Yucel, and a tourist were detained in Turkey. Moreover, the latest peculiar decision is that of Turkey’s refusal to renew the credentials of German journalists who work in Turkey.