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Turkey seeks to cool row with Germany as Berlin reviews arms requests

  • Published at 03:01 pm July 21st, 2017
Turkey seeks to cool row with Germany as Berlin reviews arms requests

Turkey's economy minister sought to calm rising tensions with Germany on Friday as Berlin said it was reviewing all applications for arms projects from Ankara.

Tensions between the Nato allies have escalated since Turkey arrested six human rights activists including German national Peter Steudtner on accusations of terrorism; but relations have been strained over a series of often bitter disputes this year.

Turkey's economy minister said he believed the Turkey-Germany crisis was temporary.

"One must refrain from words that would cause lasting harm...to the economies," Nihat Zeybekci said in an interview. "Germany must reassess comments that are inappropriate."

But Germany said almost immediately afterwards it would review Turkish applications for arms projects.

"We're checking all applications," an Economy Ministry spokeswoman said.

That means the Federal Office of Economics and Export Control (Bafa) probably cannot issue new export approvals; but projects already agreed will not be affected initially as no international sanctions have been imposed on Turkey.

In 2016 the German government exported armaments worth €83.9 million to Turkey. In the first four months of 2017, business worth €22 million was approved, for deliveries for the navy and for joint projects with other Nato partners.

Germany has warned Germans travelling to Turkey that they do so at their own peril. Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble was quoted as comparing Turkey with the former communist East German state, the German Democratic Republic (GDR).

"Turkey now makes arbitrary arrests and no longer sticks to minimum consular standards. That reminds me of how it was in the GDR," he told the mass-circulation Bild newspaper.

Schaeuble said those who travelled to the former Communist East before it collapsed in 1990 were aware that "if something happens to you, no one can help you".

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