BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany warned its citizens yesterday to exercise caution if travelling to Turkey and threatened measures that could hinder German investment there in a sign of growing impatience with a Nato ally after the detention of rights activists.
“Everyone can be affected. The most absurd things are possible,” said Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel in a caution to travellers that highlighted alarm at what Berlin clearly sees as the growing unpredictability of President Tayyip Erdogan.
Mr Gabriel broke off his holiday to return to Berlin and deal with the crisis after Turkey arrested six human rights activists including German national Peter Steudtner on accusations of terrorism, the latest in a series of diplomatic rows. Germany, Turkey’s chief export partner, called the allegations absurd.
“We need our policies towards Turkey to go in a new direction…we can’t continue as we have done,” Mr Gabriel told reporters in unusually direct language touching on sensitive commercial matters including corporate investment guarantees.
Mr Erdogan says a crackdown, in which 150,000 people have been sacked or suspended from the judiciary and journalism to academia and roughly 50,000 detained, was essential after a failed coup last July. Domestic and foreign critics accuse him of using a state of emergency as cover to root out opposition.
Juergen Hardt, a senior member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative party, said the EU candidate had now “left the path to Europe”.
“No one invests in a country…in which the judiciary has been degraded to be a helper of the ruling AKP party.”
Many companies have also been seized since the coup attempt on allegations of links to terrorism.